After Puzzling Summer Rulings Is It Time To Wave Goodbye To The Waiver Process?

Posted by nvr1983 on September 10th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Selection Sunday rarely leaves us unsatisfied. Sure, there will be questionable inclusions in the field and a handful of notables left out of the bracket, but give me a shout when you find a college basketball fan who counts themselves as a Selection Sunday detractor. The same cannot be said when it comes to the fad that is quickly becoming college basketball’s second most important selection process – the immediate eligibility transfer waiver. Maybe we are all a bit starved for relevant college hoops information, but in these dog days of summer the NCAA’s administration of the transfer waiver has become a definite hot-button topic. Two cases in particular have stirred the pot: the rejection of Rutgers transfer Kerwin Okoro, who lost two family members within a year and sought to be closer to the rest of his family, and the denial of wannabe Minnesota Golden Gopher Raheem Buckles due to FIU’s APR issues, but only after a former FIU teammate was granted the same waiver that Buckles sought. Many different outlets have weighed in on the issue, but only one thing is clear – there is no perfect solution.

Kerwin Okoro’s Failed Immediate Eligibility Hardship Waiver Has Left Many Asking For Answers From The NCAA (Credit:

Kerwin Okoro’s Failed Immediate Eligibility Hardship Waiver Has Left Many Asking For Answers From The NCAA (Credit:

One of the more supportive analyses of the NCAA and their waiver selection process comes from John Infante, who believes that in the big picture, “the waiver system is one of the NCAA’s success stories.” He does admit to the many individual failings when it comes to the enactment of the system and clamors for increased transparency, but the above point is one that many seem to miss. There may have been a number of cases, especially of late, that don’t seem fair, but we forget how many lives have been aided due to the existence of the waiver. Critics of the mere existence of the hardship waiver will argue that a player is free to transfer closer to home even without a waiver, but sitting that year out on the court is a sacrifice that should not be overlooked. Most of these kids have spent their entire lives building for these four years of basketball. Even severely ill (and selfless) parents may seek to avoid them missing that year on the floor, and potentially at all costs. The hardship waiver removes that gut-wrenching decision for student-athletes and their families. As Infante argues, it would be great to know a little more about the process behind the decision-making, but there are student-athletes out there whose lives have been unequivocally improved as a result of the waiver.

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Rodney Purvis Makes NC State a Bona Fide ACC Title Contender

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 18th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The preseason hype meter for the 2012-13 North Carolina State Wolfpack has been held in check by the lingering suspicion that incoming guard Rodney Purvis, the No. 5 ranked shooting guard in the country and the No. 1 overall player in the state of North Carolina, would be ruled ineligible to play next season. Those concerns no longer exist, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY. TV, who reported Monday that Purvis has received the official green light from the NCAA clearinghouse. Purvis was allowed to participate in practices and began attending classes, but did not take part in the team’s foreign exhibition trip to Spain last month, which raised the prospect he might miss the season as a partial qualifier. Purvis’ extended clearance process involved a meticulous review of his academic coursework at Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh. His track record now approved, the NCAA delivered Mark Gottfried and NC State its best news of the offseason.

The Wolfpack now have one of the nation’s best freshman to boost their chances of winning the ACC (Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

With Purvis in tow, NC State may very well have the talent and depth to compete for its first ACC crown since Jim Valvano bossed the Wolfpack sidelines more than two decades ago. C.J. Leslie returns to headline a vaunted frontcourt featuring bruising senior Richard Howell and highly-touted freshman T.J. Warren. The backcourt, fronted by sure-handed point guard Lorenzo Brown, three-point marksman Scott Wood, freshmen Tyler Lewis and Purvis, should be among the best in the ACC, if not the country. It’s hard to find too many flaws with this NC State team: If everything breaks right – if the new blood can fit in alongside a talented returning rotation; if Leslie can harness his first-round potential from game-to-game; if Gottfried can unify the talented crop of incoming talent with the mainstays from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team – the Wolfpack won’t just be shooting for a conference title. They’ll set their sights on something far greater. Reaching the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, as NC State did last season after hitting its stride just in time to put the finishing touches on a bubble-worthy resume with a deep run in the ACC Tournament, should be the baseline expectation. When they finally sorted out their rotation and and learned to maximize their strengths and mask their weaknesses on both ends of the floor, the Wolfpack proved they could challenge the best teams in the country. After its conference tournament run was halted by a healthy North Carolina (as in, before Kendall Marshall’s wrist injury), NC State dominated six-seed San Diego State and edged three-seed Georgetown before falling to eventual national runner-up Kansas.

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The Eligibility of Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad: Much Ado About Nothing?

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 23rd, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

On the first day of college basketball’s spring signing period, the two highest-ranked recruits in the Class of 2012 went public with their decisions. First, Bishop Gorman product Shabazz Muhammad confirmed most every pre-commitment prediction by pledging to Ben Howland at UCLA. Then Nerlens Noel, a 6’ 10’’ shot-blocking force from the Tilton School (NH), kept his top three suitors (Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown) on their toes by tweeting one day earlier that he was “Gon shock the World!!” before ultimately – and not at all unpredictably – announcing his intention to join the Wildcats. Noel and Muhammad marked two momentous pickups for each program, a pair of one-and-done talents who over the next 365 days could dominate Division I competition, garner huge amounts of national attention, and rise to rarefied status within their respective fan bases before joining the professional ranks as lottery picks in the NBA Draft. That’s the narrative most everyone expects, and rightly so: From Anthony Davis to Kevin Love to Derrick Rose, truly elite high school prospects use the college game as a one-year springboard for their professional futures. Only it now seems Muhammad and Noel’s paths to NBA stardom may not proceed quite as smoothly.

Questions remain over Noel’s eligibility as Kentucky prepares to begin its Title defense effort (Photo credit: Getty Images).

In the months since making their commitments, both players’ recruitments have come under NCAA scrutiny. reported in February that the NCAA had begun looking into Muhammad’s recruitment, with a specific emphasis on his relationship with financial advisers Ken Kavanagh and Benjamin Lincoln. The issue was put to rest – at least temporarily – before word leaked last week that Muhammad had not yet been cleared by the NCAA to travel with UCLA on its summer exhibition tour to China. The eligibility spotlight shifted its focus yesterday to Noel, when’s Pete Thamel brought to light recent developments on the NCAA’s ongoing probe over Noel’s recruitment. According to Thamel, NCAA enforcement officials, including UK chief compliance officer Sandy Bell, traveled to Tilton in early August to ask questions that “focused on the cast of characters that surrounded Noel’s recruitment and how Noel paid for his unofficial visits.” A former NCAA investigator indicated that Noel’s case appears to be more than a simple background check, citing the presence of Bell and two NCAA enforcement officials as signs pointing to further investigation. Neither player has been implicated in any wrongdoing, so UCLA and UK fans can hold their breath – for now. The ongoing queries have yet to produce any truly damaging implications, but the continual speculation dampens the excitement level for two teams with designs on deep NCAA Tournament runs in the upcoming season. For two players expected to have prominent roles within their teams’ offensive and defensive game plans, the ongoing uncertainty – even at this early stage – counts as a legitimate concern. Noel is faced with the unfortunate challenge of replacing one of college hoops’ most dominant defensive players of recent memory, Anthony Davis, while Muhammad is expected to ignite Ben Howland’s trudgy half-court system with perimeter scoring punch and dribble penetration. Even for players as talented as Muhammad and Noel, the high school-to-college leap requires an adjustment period, and any missed practice time could stall their development.

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Complete NBA Draft List: After NCAA Deadline, Who’s Staying and Who’s Going?

Posted by EJacoby on April 10th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

In a rule that makes absolutely no sense, today (April 10) marks the new official date that college players had to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft pool if they wanted to return back to school with eligibility and had previously declared for draft entry. It’s the NCAA’s deadline. That means that all of the guys who declared since the end of the season (Kendall Marshall, Jared Sullinger, and Meyers Leonard to name a few) had to decide by today whether to forgo their NCAA eligibilities. But the NBA’s own deadline isn’t until April 29, meaning that players can still declare for the draft, but just can’t withdraw anymore and retain college eligibility. Essentially, it just means that “testing the waters” is now done, so if a player enters the draft from here then he is gone for good. Yes, it’s confusing and makes zero sense, but that’s an issue for another day. Today, we wrap up all of the players who are officially sticking in the NBA Draft, those who decided to return to school, and those that are still undecided until April 29. Here’s the status of all the top non-senior players of college basketball:

After Some Debate, Jared Sullinger Declared for the NBA Draft (AP Photo)

DECLARED – These players have entered their names into the NBA Draft and no longer have college eligibility.

  • Harrison Barnes, North Carolina (Sophomore) – The super-hyped prospect had a strong two seasons but perhaps underachieved in the eyes of many UNC fans. He is a surefire lottery pick and could go in the top five so it’s a smart decision to leave.
  • Jared Sullinger, Ohio State (Sophomore) – Dominant as a Buckeye from day one as a freshman, Sullinger’s NBA stock has slowly dropped over the course of two seasons. It’s his time to go now, but he may be slipping out of the top 10. Everyone seems torn on him, but Sully is too talented of a player to fall out of the lottery.
  • Thomas Robinson, Kansas (Junior) – No-brainer. Robinson was a NPOY candidate, accomplished great things in three years at Kansas and will be a top-five draft pick.
  • Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (Sophomore) – Despite being a stacked draft, this year’s pool severely lacks point guards. Marshall lacks athleticism at the position but is a solid height (6’4”) and has elite passing skills and floor awareness that will translate at the NBA level. Could be a surprise top ten pick, and will probably go in the lottery.
  • Austin Rivers, Duke (Freshman) – Another player that scouts are torn on, many believe that Rivers could have used another year of seasoning at Duke. But his scoring prowess is undeniable and someone will grab his talents likely between picks 10 and 20. Read the rest of this entry »
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Fab Melo To Miss The NCAA Tournament

Posted by nvr1983 on March 13th, 2012

Syracuse‘s dreams of a second national title took a significant hit today when the school announced that starting center Fab Melo had been declared ineligible for the NCAA Tournament due to ongoing issues regarding his academic eligibility. Melo, who missed three games earlier this season while trying to sort out his eligibility issues, was the anchor of the team’s defense and averaged 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. Syracuse issued the following statement on the decision:

Syracuse University sophomore men’s basketball center Fab Melo did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, and will not take part in the NCAA Tournament due to an eligibility issue. Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, no further details can be provided at this time.
The suspension is a big blow to a team that had title aspirations as it leaves a significant hole in the interior of their zone defense and weakens an already horrid defensive rebounding presence. As Luke Winn and numerous others have detailed the Orange’s defense suffers when Melo is out and with a potential Elite Eight match-up with Ohio State and Jared Sullinger looming this may end up costing the Orange a Final Four trip.
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Kansas Suspensions Raise Additional Questions About The Jayhawks

Posted by nvr1983 on October 30th, 2011

To most people today’s decision by Bill Self to suspend Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson for the team’s two exhibition games would seem to be a non-issue as the games do not really count and even if Kansas were to lose one or both of those games it would not mean much in the grand scheme of things as the recent past has shown us. Self even tried to pass off the suspensions as not worth discussing when he issued the following statement:

Tyshawn and Elijah have both been terrific since school began in August. They’ve not only performed well, they have been very responsible and disciplined the first few months of the school year. But during the offseason they violated a rule that I told them, because of some past experiences, their punishment was going to be severe and I was going to hold them out of the two exhibition games. They have been aware of this for several months and also are disappointed, but have had very positive attitudes about it. I will not comment about this further. Losing two players and Thomas being questionable for Tuesday’s game probably changes the look of our team as much as anyone in the country. This gives a chance for our young guys to play under the lights and see how they react.

Do You Trust This Man To Lead Your Team?

The fact that two upperclassman (a senior and a junior, respectively) on a young team would break rules that would merit a suspension raises larger questions for the Jayhawks this season. Coming into the season, many analysts questioned whether the Jayhawks could continue their dominance over the Big 12 despite losing most of their scoring from last season particularly when they lost several highly touted members of their freshman class due to NCAA Clearinghouse issues, but in the end the general consensus is that Kansas has a solid chance of winning the conference again due to a combination of solid veteran play (specifically Taylor and Thomas Robinson), Self’s coaching, and weakened competition within the conference. While the last two are still valid reasons, we have to question the leadership within the team. Self continues to talk to the team and media about instilling discipline, but when Taylor, who has had this fair share of run-ins with the law (point plankn, anyone?), is one of your leaders we would have serious concerns about your team. We might have been able to excuse Taylor for his idiotic behavior (and typos) if that had been an isolated event, but there was also a much less publicized incident last season that resulted in a brief suspension.

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Detroit Center Eli Holman Out On Indefinite Leave Of Absence

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2011

Coming into this season Detroit was thought by many to be a potential mid-major sleeper. After a 17-16 record last season, the Titans were expected to be one of the top teams in the Horizon League. Led by Ray McCallum Jr., who averaged 13.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 4.9 APG in a spectacular freshman campaign playing for his father Ray Sr., and Chase Simon, who also averaged 13.5 PPG last season, the Titans had one of the top backcourts in the country and they had an established inside presence in Eli Holman, who averaged 11.8 PPG (on 61% FG shooting) and 9.6 RPG in his first season after transferring from Indiana. Now, it looks like those aspirations at a conference championship may have to be put on hold as Detroit has announced that Holman will be out on an indefinite leave of absence while he tends to personal matters.

Holman's Absence Leaves A Big Hole In The Middle For The Titans (Credit:

In a statement, athletic director Keri Gaither said, “We have been working with Eli Holman for some time to assist him in addressing his personal matters. At this time, we feel it is in Eli’s best interest to step away from basketball to allow him to concentrate on these matters.  He has been excused from all team-related activity for an indefinite period while actively addressing these issues. We continue to support Eli during this time and we are asking everyone’s cooperation in respecting his privacy.” Like the school, we won’t speculate on the subject as nearly anything (family, health, academic, legal, etc.) could be classified as “personal matters” and we will respect Holman’s privacy. As for the Titans, this is a major blow unless Holman comes back relatively quickly because they have very little depth inside and Holman gives them a dimension–a major inside presence–that few teams in the Horizon League have.

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D.J. Gardner Learns the Reality of the Social Media Era the Hard Way

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2011

Over the past two years few programs have had to deal with as many major issues related to eligibility and suspensions as Mississippi State has had to. From the initial investigation and year-long suspension of Renardo Sidney to the nine-game suspension that Dee Bost had to serve last year and finally the ugly fight between Sidney and teammate Elgin Bailey in the stands at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last December the program has had a difficult time getting out of its own way and putting its best possible team on the court. This time it involves a player, D.J. Gardner, who was not even going to be on the team this year.

Stansbury appears to be running a three-ring circus in Starkville

On Thursday, Rick Stansbury, announced that Gardner, a highly touted recruit who was considered a top 20 shooting guard in the class of 2011, would be redshirting. According to Gardner’s mother, her son approached the staff about redshirting after finding out that he would be part of a three-man shooting guard rotation rather than receiving the majority of the playing time that he had reportedly been promised during his recruitment to Starkville. In addition, she reports that the decision as to whether or not her son would be redshirting was not supposed to be decided on until November. However, when Stansbury announced that Gardner would be redshirting, D.J. fired off the following tweet (edited for our family audience):

These b***es tried to f**k me over.. That’s y I red shirted .. But I wish my homies a great as* season.. I don’t even know y I’m still here

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BYU’s Brandon Davies Suspended For The Rest Of The Season

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2011

In a shocking development less than two weeks before Selection Sunday, BYU announced that it has suspended Brandon Davies, its starting center, for the rest of the season for a violation of its Honor Code (official statement available here). Davies had sat out Monday’s practice with what was reported to be a quadriceps injury, but may in fact have been a waiting period while the school made the final decision on his status for this season, as he did play in the Cougars’ 80-67 road win at San Diego State. The school would not elaborate on what Davies had done to violate the school’s Honor Code, but as anybody who is familiar with the school is aware it is something that they take very seriously, since they even have a home page for it. The honor code is quite extensive, and if you want to read through it and some of its nuances we encourage you to check out the official page, but we think the pertinent parts are where a student must pledge to:

Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

We will eschew speculation on what Davies did to merit this suspension in favor of waiting for the school (or more likely Davies) to reveal what the root cause was, but it is a devastating blow to a team that appeared to be in line for a #1 seed on Selection Sunday. Although most of the nation knows the Cougars as Jimmer Fredette and a bunch of guys who inbound the ball to Jimmer, they actually have three players who are averaging double-digits (that’s one more than Duke if you don’t include Kyrie Irving).

Davies' suspension leaves BYU with a hole in the middle (Credit: Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman)

While Jimmer gets a majority of the accolades and rightfully so, the Cougars have/had a pair of other solid scorers in Jackson Emery (12.6 PPG) and Davies (11.1 PPG and 6.2 RPG). The suspension of Davies means that not only do the Cougars lose their leading rebounder and primary source of inside offense, but it also places added pressure on many of the little-used Cougar big men, as Davies and Noah Hartsock were the only two interior players to average over 10 minutes per game. It is unclear how the NCAA Selection Committee will view the suspension with regard to BYU’s seeding, but it will significantly hinder BYU’s chances of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and could put a damper on Jimmer-mania.

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Izzo Dismisses Korie Lucious For Remainder Of Season

Posted by jstevrtc on January 25th, 2011

News came down late on Tuesday that Tom Izzo had dismissed junior guard Korie Lucious from the Michigan State squad for conduct detrimental to the team. In a statement, Izzo said, “Unfortnately, Korie Lucious displayed conduct detrimental to the program. My focus is on this team for the remainder of the season.”

Lucious and Izzo In Less Trying Times

Lucious also released a statement, in which he admitted, “I didn’t live up to the standards of the program. Unfortunately, I let my teammates, my coaches, and myself down, and I wish them the best for the rest of the season.”

Lucious had led the team in assists, dishing out 4.1 APG as well as contributing 6.5 PPG this year. He also led the team in assist-to-turnover ratio with a rate of 1.9.

So far, there has been no mention as to whether Lucious will be eligible to rejoin the team as a senior next season. He had endured some criticism from MSU fans this year regarding a tendency to disappear late in games, a sentiment that would belie his performance in his most well-known moment as a Spartan: his buzzer-beater against Maryland that sent Midwest 5th-seed Michigan State through to the Sweet Sixteen of last year’s NCAA Tournament:

Tom Izzo is known for how his Spartan squads improve throughout a season and usually overachieve in the NCAA Tournament. In his 15 seasons as head coach, he’s taken MSU to the Tournament 13 times, and those teams have “underachieved” their seeding only twice. Both of those were first-round losses — as a Midwest #7 against Nevada in 2004, and as a Washington-pod #6 against that history making George Mason squad in 2006. Despite their 12-7 record this year, many followers of the game still held out faith that the Spartans would eventually show their usual late-season performance spike, evidenced by the fact that MSU clung to the bottom rung of the AP Top 25 and tied for 23rd in RTC’s rankings this week (see upper left).

As part of their remaining Big Ten slate, Michigan State still has upcoming games against Purdue and Illinois in East Lansing, and on the road at Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Even with six Final Fours, two trips to the championship game and his title in 2000, to survive that schedule and build a record good enough to warrant a bid to the NCAA Tournament this year would be Izzo’s greatest achievement yet. Izzo has four other guards who play at least 11 minutes a game, so what Lucious brought to the team in terms of points and rebounds won’t be terribly hard to absorb among the other players. But the dark cloud and mental gut-punch that this suspension brings to the program in an already difficult year is bigger than any scoring or rebounding contributions that the Spartans will be missing as a result of Lucious’ dismissal.

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