We found this report from ESPN.com's Darren Rovell quite interesting, only because it goes against pretty much everything we know (or at least think we know) about NCAA rules. Per Rovell:
Missy Franklin, however, will be able to keep some bonus money and still go to college should she wish, USA Swimming spokesman Karen Linhart confirmed to ESPN.com on Monday. Franklin will take home $100,000 for each individual gold ($25,000 from the US Olympic Committee and $75,000 from USA Swimming) in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events. ... Per NCAA rules, Franklin is not allowed to receive a $50,000 bonus from USA Swimming for setting the world record in the 200-meter backstroke.
Admittedly, our realm is more in the major-money college sports. Per the NCAA web site, here are basic rules for retaining amateur status and therefore being eligible to compete in college athletics:
In general, amateurism requirements do not allow:
Contracts with professional teams
Salary for participating in athletics
Prize money above actual and necessary expenses
Play with professionals
Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team
Benefits from an agent or prospective agent
Agreement to be represented by an agent
Delayed initial full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition
Prize money above actual and necessary expenses? We would have to think $200,000 combined for her two gold medals would go above and beyond. Maybe we're missing something here -- and we don't begrudge Franklin, who won't graduate high school until 2013, getting paid for her accomplishments -- but we're worried about boosters slipping football recruits a few honeybees while swimmers are making six figures off their sport and still eligible for college when the time comes?
We will happily amend this post if someone can offer some further education on how this works.
UPDATE: From the comments -- Copied from page 63 of the NCAA Bylaws: 22.214.171.124.4.1.2 Operation Gold Grant. An individual (prospective student-athlete or student-athlete) may accept funds that are administered by the U.S. Olympic Committee pursuant to its Operation Gold program. I'm not sure how the USA swimming award fits in with that, but it explains the USOC's $25,000.