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Volume 21 No. 13
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Higher limits bring gift package upgrades

Division I college players and coaches participating in this month’s various basketball championship tournaments could receive gift packages that are worth almost 12 percent more than last year’s giveaways, according to an increase approved last summer by the NCAA.

The 200 participants in this year’s men’s and women’s Final Fours will receive gifts with a total value of approximately $750, up from $600 last year, including a Jostens ring, a set of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and a piece of the court from championship weekend. All NCAA tournament participants will receive a Fossil watch, for a total outlay of approximately $320,000 by the NCAA.

While gifts provided during basketball season aren’t recognized to the degree that bowl game gifts for football players are discussed, the total packages available from the NCAA, individuals schools and conferences can be extensive. For example, a senior on a team that runs the table and wins championships for the regular season, postseason conference tournament and NCAA tournament could secure gifts valued at up to $3,780. Last year’s comparable total was $3,380.

Up to 25 gift packages can be provided to a team by its school and by its conference for participating in this month’s conference tournaments, according to NCAA bylaws. An unlimited number of additional packages can be bought and given to guests, such as sponsors and media partners.

Those tournament-related gifts follow participation packages available to the players, and additional packages for championship wins are available as well.

The monetary limits set up by the NCAA are similar across most men’s and women’s sports and sanctioned events. There are, however, variances based on whether the sport is individual- or team-based, among other factors.

In addition to the increase in value for gifts coming directly from the NCAA, the organization last summer approved an increase to the maximum cash value of gifts that conferences and schools can award players for participating in athletics, including basketball, effective fall 2011. The last such increase was in 2005, and before that came the mid-1990s, according to the NCAA.

Not all conferences used the approved change to increase their spending on their gifts packages, but those that did tended to either upgrade their electronic offerings or add one if there was not such an item in the previous package. The 270 packages being distributed this year by the West Coast Conference, for example, include a set of Skullcandy ear buds, with a retail cost of up to $50. Last year’s gift from the conference was a laptop bag.

While the majority of conferences distribute the gifts at tournament sites, several have opted to have the participants go to a specific website set up by a gift broker — such as Performance Award Center or Goldner Associates — and choose from a selection of gifts. Those items are then sent to an address of the participant’s choice.

Basketball Bounty

NCAA Division I basketball players can receive gifts totaling up to $3,780 this season from their schools, conferences and the NCAA.

Playing in regular season (from the school) $225 (underclassman)/$425 (senior) $225 (underclassman)/$425 (senior)
Conference championship tournament $375 (from the school), $375 (from the conference) $750
NCAA tournament $375 (from the school), no limit from the NCAA $1,125*
TOTAL   $2,100/$2,300
Regular season $325 (from the school), $325 (from the conference) $650**
Conference championship tournament $325 (from the school), $325 (from the conference) $650**
NCAA tournament $415 (from the school), $415 (from the conference) $830
TOTAL   $1,480
GRAND TOTAL   $3,580/$3,780

* According to the NCAA, this year’s participant gift package has an estimated cash value of approximately $750.
** The combined value of both awards shall not exceed $650 if the same school wins both the regular-season and the postseason conference tournament championships.
Source: NCAA

Tourney Time

Following are gifts provided by Division I basketball conferences and the NCAA to players competing in their men’s and women’s basketball tournaments this month.

Conference (No. of packages distributed) Gifts
ACC (600)* Under Armour backpack, plus the choice of one of the following: Bose QC15 noise-canceling headphones; JVC HD camcorder; Nikon L120 digital camera; Toshiba 19-inch LED television with built-in DVD player; Bose SoundLink wireless mobile speaker
America East (NA) NA
Atlantic 10 (528) Online gift suite, from which players were able to select one of the fol­lowing: Bose in-ear headphones; Samsung Blu-ray player; iLuv audio cube speaker dock for iPhone/iPod/iPad; Fossil watch; Samsung digi­tal camera; Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses
Atlantic Sun (400) Rain jacket and tournament program
Big East (704) Toshiba 24-inch LED television and American Eagle Outfitters tourna­ment-branded hooded sweatshirt
Big Sky (264) Conference-branded hoodie, long-sleeve dry-fit shirt, short-sleeve dry-fit shirt, backpack
Big South (400) Crons dry-fit tech shirt
Big Ten (360) All Sport hoodie, water bottle, cap
Big 12 (600) Dynex 32-inch flat-screen television
Big West (352) Sport Tek T-shirt
Conference USA (600) Online gift suite, which included apparel and merchandise from Ogio, Sony and others
Colonial Athletic (480) Crons training shirt, plus the choice of one of the following from an online gift suite: Bose in-ear headphones; Fossil women’s Stella watch; Fossil men’s Machine silicone watch; iLuv hi-fidelity speaker dock for iPhone/iPod/iPad; Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses with cleaning cloth; Samsung Blu-ray player; Samsung digital camera
Great West (NA) Fleece sweatshirt for the student athletes, Tervis tumblers for the staffs of each team
Horizon League (NA) Fleece jacket, T-shirt
MEAC (NA) Did not disclose
Metro Atlantic (NA) Duffel bag, T-shirt
Missouri Valley (600) Nike long-sleeve pro performance T-shirt
Mountain West (352) Online gift suite, from which players were able to select one of the following: Bose in-ear headphones; Samsung Blu-ray player; conference-branded apparel package from Champion; RCA HD camcorder; Mr. Coffee Single Serve Brewing System
Northeast (352) Backpack
Ohio Valley (400) Adidas pullover with conference logo
Pac-12 (NA) Laptop sleeve; running armband to hold an iTouch/iPhone; Modify watch; Beats by Dr. Dre Solo HD headphones (branded for each institution)
Patriot (NA) Pullover hoodie, and players from the championship-winning teams can select one of the following: watch; blanket; pen set; mini championship trophy
SEC (360) Online gift suite, from which players were able to select one of the following: Bose SoundDock; Samsung HD camcorder; Toshiba LED 19- inch television with built-in DVD player; Sony digital camera with case; Apple iPod touch with music card and Griffin armband
Southern (366) Sport Tek jackets in each school’s color with the conference logo
Southland (240) Conference-branded backpack
Summit League (390) Windbreaker jacket
Sun Belt (528) Backpack
WAC (400) Club Glove laptop bag and T-shirt
West Coast (270) Conference-branded dry-fit pullover, conference-branded duffel bag and Skullcandy ear buds
NCAA (3,300) Fossil watch, and players from the Final Four teams also will receive a Jostens ring, Wilson backpack and mini basketball, Lucite game ticket, Final Four floor piece, Final Four hat, bench chair and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones

NA: Not available at press time.
* Gifts for the men’s tournament are paid for by this year’s host venue, Philips Arena in Atlanta, and gifts for the women’s tournament are paid for by the Tournament Host Committee of Greensboro (N.C.) rather than the conference.
Notes: The Mid-American Conference does not provide participant gift packages. The Ivy League does not have a season-ending conference tournament. Additional packages can be bought and given to guests, such as sponsors and media partners.
Compiled by Brandon McClung
Sources: NCAA, conferences