Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The NCAA gets one right

I rail on the NCAA as much as anyone on the blogosphere, but if I am going to critique them for their mistakes then I must also give credit when credit is due.

And the NCAA's decision to grant Lionel Gomis two extra years of eligibility is the correct one.

The name probably won't be familiar to you, but I guarantee his story will touch you. Gomis, a native of Dakar, Senegal, lost his mother when he was 14 years old. He tried living with his estranged father, but that didn't work out. Without a consistent income, Gomis and his sister were no longer able to afford the private school that they had been attending, so he took two years off from schooling. His basketball ability was enough, however, that he was noticed by the SEEDS -- Sports for Education and Economic Development -- Foundation, which brought him to the States. Due to the language barrier, he ended up having to reclassify one year at Blair Academy.

But thanks to a new NCAA rule that requires players to finish their high school classes in a five-year window, the NCAA ruled that Gomis had a single year of eligibility available to him -- he lost two because of the years he sat out in Senegal and the third because of the year that he reclassified at Blair.

Thankfully, the NCAA reversed their decision today, granting Gomis and his teammate Imoh Silas three years of eligibility; they both have to sit out this season after reclassifying at their american high schools.

"Our compliance staff and basketball coaches have done a great deal of work assembling documents and gathering information that led to Lionel earning back two years of eligibility," director of athletics John D'Argenio said.

"We will continue to seek new information to support a reconsideration of each case."

Sitting out this season won't be easy, but having three years of eligibility is better than having just one.

And at the very least, Gomis and Silas will both get an education. Because that's the goal of college athletics, right?

No comments: