According to ESPN, a new crowdfunding site called FanAngel will allow fans to donate money to be held for a student-athlete if he chooses to stay in school and forego the opportunity to turn professional. When an athlete chooses to stay in school, 80% of the donations will be held for the athlete in escrow, 10% will be paid to the athlete’s teammates, and the remaining 10% will be earmarked for charities and scholarships. If the athlete chooses to leave school, the money will be refunded to the donors. The site, founded by Shawn Fotjik, attempts to steer clear of NCAA eligibility violations by preventing student-athletes from accepting any of the donations until they have left school, even going so far as to prevent student-athletes from crowdfunding on their own. This would hopefully avoid scrutiny by the NCAA which previously argued in the Ed O’Bannon case that a student-athlete’s acceptance of money to be held in escrow qualifies as acceptance of an impermissible benefit at the time of acceptance.
Jason Fixelle is the Sports Highlight Editor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current second year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2016).