On National Signing Day (last Wednesday) Alex Collins was expected to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play football at Arkansas. However, Collins’ mother, Andrea McDonald, refused to sign the NLI, preferring that her son attend college in their home state of Florida. The next day Collins’ father signed his NLI. His mother hired Johnnie Cochran’s old law firm, which issued the following statement:
“Ms. McDonald hopes all NCAA rules and regulations were followed during today’s signing. She is not seeking any personal financial gain because her only concern is for Alex’s happiness and well being.”
Does Ms. McDonald have standing to seek the intervention of the court?
I think that the answer is no. Although the NLI requires the signature of a parent or guardian for student-athletes under 21, 18 is the age of majority in most jurisdictions. Moreover, the parental consent does not necessarily make Ms. McDonald a party to the agreement. Rather, the consent merely protects the school from claims brought by parents or guardians. Further, how have Ms. McDonald’s rights been affected by her son’s signing of the NLI?
If Ms. McDonald does have standing what relief can be granted?
The attorney hired by Ms. McDonald alluded to a potential violation of NCAA rules, and that could be used to attempt to invalidate the NLI. However, it would be more practical to simply demand that Arkansas release Collins from the NLI before hiring counsel. If that demand was denied, an appeal could be taken. The hiring of counsel at this stage is curious. Even if a court could invalidate the NLI, that will not necessarily stop Alex Collins from attending Arkansas. He could simply receive a scholarship from Arkansas without first signing the NLI.
What does the statement “[s]he is not seeking any personal financial gain” mean?
It is a stretch to think that Ms. McDonald would be able to obtain a monetary settlement or damages award by bringing an action against Arkansas. Ms. McDonald seeks no personal financial gain because none is available.
This case is unlikely to reach the courts, but the bizarre facts of the case and odd statement from Ms. McDonald’s attorney signal that anything is possible.