Thunder Fan May Have to Return $20K from Half-Court Shot Because He's a College Athlete
Cameron Rodriguez, 23, won $20,000 for making a half court shot at an Oklahoma City Thunder game, but may not receive the money because he is on a $4,000 scholarship at Southwestern College in Winfield, KS at the NAIA level.
The Moundbuilders play at the NAIA level. The NAIA student guide states that any athlete who 'exploits' his or her fame or abilities 'for remuneration' is considered a professional and would lose amateur standing and therefore be diaqualified. [sic]
The NCAA makes an exception for prize money won in promotions for which an athlete was chosen at random, however it’s not known whether a similar exception will be made for Rodriguez.
Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said Rodriguez was chosen at random and the people are chosen before the game. They did not know he was a basketball player.
Rodriguez's out-of-pocket expenses add up to $33,000 a year, which includes room and board. MidFirst Bank provides the promotion and will donate it to a charity in Rodriguez's name if he cannot keep the money. He said he would choose a non-profit that helps Southwestern's basketball program or one of the many groups the Thunder works with for local children.