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NAIA Rules SC Basketball Player will Retain Winnings in Scholarship Form

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced that Cameron Rodriguez of Southwestern College (Kan.) will be allowed to retain his winnings from a half-court shot during a National Basketball Association (NBA) halftime promotion. The NAIA’s National Eligibility Committee (NEC), which consists of representatives from various schools and conferences, was the decision making body for Southwestern College’s request for an exceptional ruling to a standard rule.
Cameron Rodriguez
The decision to use the money as a scholarship was a joint recommendation by Rodriguez and Southwestern College athletic department, which was supported by the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“We’re pleased with the decision from the membership and specifically the NEC that allows Cameron to keep his winnings to use towards his education,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “We feel the NAIA is the student-centered association in collegiate athletics, and this decision by our membership reflects that emphasis.”

Rodriguez, a men’s basketball player at Southwestern College, made the shot Nov. 18 during halftime of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s game against the Denver Nuggets after being selected at random. At the time of the basket, he was the fourth person since February to hit the franchises’ $20,000 half-court shot.  

The NAIA Official & Policy Handbook, the primary governance document of the association, outlines the decision making process for this type of exception in a three-step process (Article V, Section L). First, the ruling must be submitted to the conference eligibility chairperson by the FAR and the institution’s athletic director requesting the ruling. The conference eligibility chairperson – in this specific case an individual from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference – then provides a recommendation to the NAIA. Once that recommendation is received, the NEC reviews the documentation and provides a ruling that only applies to the specific case and does not establish precedent.

“We are proud of our student-athlete for doing the right thing in contacting his coach before he did anything,” Dick Merriman, Southwestern College President said. “We are also proud of the NAIA for doing the right thing in their ruling. I am pleased with this outcome.”

Rodriguez will have to maintain his amateur status throughout the remainder of his eligibility. The NAIA defines amateurism as a student who engages in athletic contests for educational values, personal pleasure, satisfaction, and for the love of the sport, not for monetary or material gain. 

“We are very pleased with the decision the NAIA has made, and we appreciate their willingness take this case into consideration,” Southwestern College Director of Athletics Dave Denly said. “We are excited for Cameron to be able to maintain his eligibility while accepting his winnings in the form of a scholarship, and we thank all parties involved for their patience and support during this process.”

Since 1937, the NAIA has administered sports programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience for its 250-plus member colleges and universities. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. Through the Champions of Character program, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. For more information, visit www.naia.org.

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