The NCAA has thrown away the chance to reverse one of its most nonsensical decisions.
North Carolina State announced Monday that its appeal to gain immediate eligibility for freshman Braxton Beverly has been denied.
Hours after the revelation earlier this month that North Carolina would avoid any punishment for years of gross academic fraud, the NCAA penalized a player from one of the Tar Heels’ chief rivals for the cardinal sin of actually going to class. It ruled that Beverly must sit out the entire 2017-18 season because the four-star point guard attended a few weeks of summer classes at Ohio State before withdrawing from the school in June and transferring to NC State in July.
Beverly left Ohio State days after the Buckeyes abruptly fired embattled coach Thad Matta in June after a string of spring recruiting misses diminished hope of a rapid turnaround. Even though Beverly hadn’t played a single game for Ohio State, the NCAA viewed him as a freshman transfer instead of an incoming prospect since he had already enrolled in classes.
It’s understandable that the NCAA prevents transfers from playing right away at their new school because eliminating that rule would incentivize poaching and essentially create free agency in college sports. But when an incoming freshman’s coach gets fired without warning months before he even puts on a jersey for the first time, the NCAA has no business obstructing that player from leaving or from playing right away at a new school.
In a statement released the day of the initial ruling, Beverly described the NCAA’s decision as “incredibly unfair” and expressed hope it would be overturned on appeal. The NCAA has a history of going strictly by the rule book on its initial decisions only to take common sense into account during the appeals process, usually after a firestorm of negative publicity.
This time there was no reversal, no leniency and not a hint of common sense. The NCAA upheld its decision to punish Beverly for having the gall to attend summer classes before electing to transfer after the entire coaching staff who recruited him was fired without warning.
“Disappointed would be an understatement for how I feel for Braxton,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement Monday. “He’s devastated. This is a situation where adults failed a young man and he’s paying the price.”
The Beverly decision bolsters the argument that the NCAA’s system of punishment is in need of a complete overhaul. If a system allows you to punish Beverly for going to class but prevents you from penalizing North Carolina for the worst case of systemic academic fraud in college sports history, then that system is hopelessly flawed.
NC State actually has another freshman guard on its roster who originally committed to another school but backed out of his letter of intent after it underwent an unexpected coaching change. Freshman guard Lavar Batts originally intended to go to VCU before Will Wade left for LSU in the spring.
Why is Batts eligible to play this year while Beverly must wait until November 2018? Batts was still finishing high school when Wade left VCU. Beverly had already gotten a head start on college classes by the time Ohio State cut Matta loose in June.
Now, against all odds, Beverly is being punished.
The NCAA had one final chance to reverse that joke of a decision, but it inexplicably chose to stand behind it instead.
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