Play football for Maryland and have a great game? Congratulations, here's a game ball. But the school needs it back before you leave. You can collect it when you depart campus.
That's what happened to Marcus Whitfield on Saturday. He had 1.5 sacks and five tackles. He got a game ball and he can't keep it.
“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 (about game balls) when Coach (Randy) Edsall first got here,” said Whitfield, a fifth-year senior.
The NCAA told the Baltimore Sun that the school would not be in violation of extra benefit rules by awarding a player a football. "The answer is yes. A student-athlete can keep a game ball," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an email response.
So why is Maryland withholding the game balls? According to the Sun, it's because the school doesn't want to have the balls count towards the dollar cap on gifts players can receive. Per the NCAA, seniors can get $425 worth of gifts while all other underclassmen can have $225 of gifts per year. (Game balls retail at approximately $65 if you're wondering)
But still, how ridiculous is this rule? While a cap on gifts makes sense on the surface, a gift ceremoniously awarded after a great performance like a game ball shouldn't fall within the spectrum of counting towards the annual limit. Did the game ball Henry Josey received at Missouri Saturday count against the limit?