Sports Law Blog
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Is getting a tattoo a "benefit"?
As if 10% unemployment and the loss of two Congressional seats weren't enough, Ohio-ans now have to deal with the news that some of "the" Ohio State University's star football players, including last year's Rose Bowl MVP Terrelle Pryor, may miss this year's bowl showdown with Arkansas. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a number of players, including Pryor, are under investigation for receiving free tattoos.
NCAA Bylaw 16.02.3 prohibits student-athletes from receiving "extra benefits" not offered to the general public from university employees and boosters:
“An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletic interests to provide a student-athlete...a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes...is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students...on a basis unrelated to athletics ability."Here, the athletes' tattoos were supposedly provided by Columbus parlor "Fine Line Ink." Presumably, the expansive definition of booster would sweep in the shop in question.
Although it seems these players will get to watch the game from the hotel, there are two possible lines of defense. First, is getting a tattoo, which one will surely regret years from now, really a benefit? (OK, probably). But is it a benefit not available to the general public. According to Fine Line Ink's myspace page, free tattoos are available to anyone willing to host a tattoo party:
Call and ask us how you can get a free tattoo for hosting a party at our place or yours! Invite all your friends, for food, drinks, and Tattoos & Piercings! Some restrictions apply call shop for details.So maybe this was a "party"?
Coach Jim Tressel no doubt regrets being so sanguine the last time Terrelle's ink made the news.