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A look at the NCAA rule that led to 'PastaGate'

by Ryan Aber Published: February 19, 2014

In Wednesday’s Oklahoman, I took a look at the secondary violations that Oklahoma reported to the NCAA during an approximately 18-month period stretching back to February 2012.

The one violation that’s gotten the most traction today is the violation involving pasta in “excess of the permissible refreshments that may be provided by an institution.”

Here are a couple of key sections from the report submitted by Oklahoma to the NCAA:


Describe the facts associated with the request/case: On May 10, 2013, the athletics department hosted a graduation banquet for graduating student athletes. Three (3) of the student-athletes graduates from the University of Oklahoma (redacted) but returned to the University to compete in their final season of competition. At the graduation banquet, the student-athletes were provides a pasta serving that is in excess of the permissible refreshments that may be provided by an institution pursuant to A breakdown of the invoice indicates that the per person cost of the pasta serving was $3.83 ($575 (cost of pasta)/150 (people in attendance) = $3.83).

What are any relevant mitigating circumstances that should be considered when reviewing the request? Upon a review of the Food and Beverage Expense Certification Form, the institution determined a violation occurred and requested that the student-athletes pay the amount of the extra benefit to a charity of their choice.

The rule cited is In the latest manual I can find, that wouldn’t apply. In the 2012-13 NCAA manual, that rule covers the retention of athletics apparel and equipment. However, NCAA bylaw seems to be the one that OU had in mind when they reported the violation: Incidental Benefits—Reasonable Refreshments. An institution may provide student-athletes with reasonable refreshments (e.g., soft drinks, snacks) for student-athlete educational and business meetings and, on an occasional basis, for celebratory events (e.g., birthdays). [R] (Adopted: 10/28/99)

So it appears the pasta serving size wasn’t the problem but the fact the pasta was part of a full meal and not light refreshments was the issue.

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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