Luke DeCock

NCAA wants to punish NC State basketball freshman for ... going to class? – DeCock

Braxton Beverly had already started classes at Ohio State before deciding to leave the program to sign with NC State after his coach resigned.
Braxton Beverly had already started classes at Ohio State before deciding to leave the program to sign with NC State after his coach resigned. Herald-Leader

Not that the NCAA’s transfer rules aren’t complicated enough on their own, but N.C. State’s basketball program is doing a remarkable job of discovering obscure loopholes in them that just so happen to invariably penalize the player.

Only months after Terry Henderson’s appeal for an extra year of eligibility was denied because he had the temerity to blow out an ankle after transferring from West Virginia, the Wolfpack is once again appealing for common sense with the NCAA. This time, it’s incoming freshman Braxton Beverly, who had the equal temerity to think it was safe to attend summer school at Ohio State without his coach getting fired, only for Ohio State to fire Thad Matta in June.

Ohio State, humanely, released Beverly from his letter of intent, and he landed at N.C. State, where the NCAA now could potentially make him sit out a year before playing because he committed the cardinal sin of going to class.

Let that one sink in.

It’s fine for the NCAA to do its due diligence here. A player who enrolls shouldn’t have the freedom to transfer at will. There’s a dividing line that needs to be established, and an academic year should count as an academic year. But when there’s good reason for it – like a coach getting fired before the player even puts the uniform on, and the school being willing to let the player go, as it should – the NCAA shouldn’t stand in his way.

There isn’t a lot of precedent here because there haven’t been many examples of coaches getting fired on their day off. But if a school is willing to let a recruit move on after firing the coach who recruited him, the NCAA shouldn’t stand in the player’s way on what’s essentially a technicality – just as a school shouldn’t stand in the way of a transfer who has completed his undergraduate education, as Pittsburgh tried to do with Cameron Johnson this summer before he was eventually allowed to transfer to North Carolina.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas speaks about his belief that the NCAA is breaking it's own rules in the its UNC case.

It’s July, and there’s still plenty of time for common sense to prevail. But the NCAA should consider that penalizing Beverly for going to summer school will have a deterrent effect on incoming freshmen, who may want to wait to show up on campus until they’re sure their coach will be around in the fall.

If the NCAA really cares about education, it shouldn’t punish Beverly for trying, in good faith, to get a head start on his.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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