Posted on 16 January 2012.
Last month, SI.com reported that former St. Joe’s basketball player, Todd O’Brien had missed the first half of his final season of eligibility because his former coach, Phil Martelli and the administration at St. Joseph refused to grant the senior center a release, once he transferred to UAB this past summer.
Of course, the adminstration of St. Joe’s and Coach Martelli have hidden behind the scenes throughout the breaking of this story, declining to comment to any media outlets as to why they see it necessary to prevent O’Brien from finishing his college career.
O’Brien tried to utilize the same NCAA rule that allowed former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson to transfer from NC State to Wisconsin. Without getting into too much legal jargon, it states that an athlete who has already graduated will not have to give up a year of eligibility if he/she goes to a different institution, provided that a masters program or course of study is offered at the new institution and is not offered at the original school.
That is…assuming that athlete can get a release. When it became obvious that Martelli was not willing to allow O’Brien to play for UAB, the senior center made an appeal to the NCAA in the fall.
In typical fashion, the NCAA denied the request, citing St. Joe’s stance on the issue. O’Brien made an appeal, citing his grades, course of study and his internship that he completed, proving to the NCAA that he is, indeed, studying an area not offered at St. Joseph’s. That appeal was promtly denied.
The NCAA boasts that it is the governing body that is in place to protect the integrity of college student athletes. Guess what, NCAA…you failed. Again.
How is it right that a kid, who averaged a meager 1.0 point per game last year at St. Joe’s, can’t play out his college eligibility because of a hard-headed, vindictive former coach? The NCAA had a perfect opportunity to protect a student athlete. But instead, they turned their back on him.
Unfortunately, O’Brien’s case is just the latest in a trend that the NCAA has set. Take a look at some other ridiculous decisions, in which the NCAA dropped the ball (no pun intended) and failed the student athlete.
2011: Terrelle Pryor, Devier Posey, Dan Herron and others/Ohio State: The and selling of equipment by Ohio State football players to the owner of a tattoo parlor is well-documented and ultimately cost Jim Tressel his job. Much criticism was given to Tressel and his players, most notably, star quarterback Pryor for the scandal.
The NCAA did their investigation and announced suspensions of four different players, including Pryor, but despite announcing the suspensions before last year’s Sugar Bowl, the NCAA determined that those suspensions would not begin until the following season.
It should be noted that the NCAA collects the majority of their revenue from college football. The BCS bowls earn a significant chunk of that revenue. And a Sugar Bowl without Pryor, Posey and star running back, Herron would mean a sharp decline in ratings and advertising dollars. The NCAA rules with an iron fist….unless it could hurt their revenue.
2010: AJ Green, WR/Georgia: The NCAA suspended Green four games after he admitted to selling a bowl jersey to a former North Carolina defensive back for $1000. In the meantime, the NCAA raked in the money generated from the EA Sports NCAA Football game which featured Green’s digital character, wearing that same #8.
2009: Dez Bryant, WR/Oklahoma State: After failing to fully disclose that he had a meal with former NFL defensive back Deion Sanders, the NCAA suspended the star wideout for the remainder of the season on October 7, 2009. Bryant had been a Heisman front-runner and later told media outlets that he was scared when the NCAA questioned him about the interaction with Sanders, and out of fear of loss of eligibility, he did, in fact, mislead them. Critics, however, question a suspension that cost the phenom his entire junior season.
2004: Mike Williams/WR, USC: After a federal judge ruled in favor of former Ohio State running back, Maurice Clarrett that the NFL could not bar a player from entering the NFL Draft, instead of requiring that an athlete is at least three years removed from high school, Williams(then a sophomore) declared for the draft and hired an agent.
The Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, prompting Williams to seek reinstatement, so he didn’t have to sit out the entire 2004 season. Williams applied for reinstatement with the NCAA, caught up on his classes to get in good academic standing and followed the plan laid out for him by the USC coaching staff and administration. –photo courtesy of cbssports.com
Not only did the NCAA deny Williams his eligibility, but they waited to give the news of the rejection until USC was preparing for their flight out to their first game of the 2004 season.