Maryland Linebacker Receives Game Ball, But Can’t Keep It Until End of Season for Fear of NCAA Sanction


September 4, 2013

marcus whitfieldMaryland linebacker Marcus Whitfield was awarded the game ball last Saturday after racking up five tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in a 43-10 rout of Florida International. Then, he had to give it back.

The team holds on to all game balls that Terrapins players may earn throughout their college careers until they graduate or leave the school, Whitfield told The Baltimore Sun. This seemingly strange practice is used as a way of avoiding any potential sanctions from the NCAA, which places restrictions on gifts given to student-athletes.

?We can?t get the game ball until after we leave school because it?s against NCAA regulations. We have the game ball but it?s in the archives,? Whitfield said. ?That was crazy when I heard that when Coach [Randy] Edsall first got here.”

The NCAA clarified in an email to The Sun that it is, in fact, OK to award game balls to players, but the Maryland staff feared that doing so might count toward the monetary limit placed on player gifts (underclassmen are allowed to receive $225 in awards or gifts each year, while the maximum for seniors is $425).

So, the NCAA is not technically barring universities from handing out celebratory game balls. But, the governing body’s haphazard interpretation and enforcement of its own regulations has scared at least one school from participating in one of football’s great traditions.

Photo via Twitter/@YungTerp41

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