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NCAA rules: Ministry to hold in trust cash rewards of US-based World U20 medallists

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Favour Ofili poses with Namibia’s Christine Mboma (C) and her countrywoman, Beatrice Masilingi (R) after the women’s 200m final at the U20 World Athletics Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Tony Karumba / AFP

Nigeria’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development says it will now keep in trust the cash rewards it promised the country’s medallists at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Sunday Dare, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, announced cash awards for Team Nigeria athletes who won medals at the World Athletics U20 Championships, which came to a close on Sunday in the Kenyan capital.

The cash awards announced by the minister would have seen Team Nigeria athletes receive $5,000 for gold, $3,000 for silver, and $2,000 for bronze medals.

Nigerian athletes won four gold and three bronze medals to place third on the medals table behind hosts Kenya and Finland.

However, with most of the country’s medallists already studying in United States colleges and universities or on the brink of entering one, receiving cash rewards would go against one of the rules of the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules.

The NCAA is a non-profit organisation that regulates student athletes from up to 1,268 institutions and conferences in the US and Canada.

Generally, once prospective student-athletes enrol full time at a college or university, they may not accept more prize money than expenses for each competition.

And it is for this reason that Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development came out on Sunday to clarify its position regarding the cash prize it handed out to gold medallists – Udodi Chudi Onwuzurike, Imaobong Nse Uko, members of the 4×400 metres mixed relay team, and the 4x400m women’s relay team – and the country’s bronze medallists – Chinecherem Nnamdi, Favour Ofili, and the women’s 4x100m relay team.

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“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development have given further clarifications to the announcement of cash rewards to medal winning Team Nigeria athletes at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya,” began a statement issued on Sunday and made available to The Guardian.

“This clarification has become necessary following enquiries about the NCAA status of some of the beneficiaries.

“We know about the NCAA regulations and we won’t want any of these young and promising talents, who are our hopes for the future, to breach the rules as it affects the rewards we announced. As such, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development would hold the cash rewards in trust for those affected by the NCAA regulations while the others not affected by it would be handed their rewards.

“The Ministry will remain properly guided on this matter.”

Recall that medal-winning Team Nigeria athletes to the just concluded Tokyo Olympic Games were also given cash awards.

This was however the first time that athletes to the World Athletics U20 Championships would be financially rewarded for their performances.


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