NCAA Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Clearinghouse is Clear As Mud


July 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Photos of the exterior of the NCAA Headquarters. The NCAA Clearinghouse has been the subject of much scrutiny this fall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Clearinghouse has been the subject of much ire on the part of Duqeusne fans this year. Their eligibility process is traveling at a snail’s pace, impacting the ability of freshman Jordan Robinson to do, well, anything at all.

He hasn’t been able to be a part of the team so far, to the point where he can’t even be on the bench with the Dukes during games. Jordan put up great numbers in high school and we’re all eager to see what he can do at this level – or at least let him get on to practicing.

There’s no other way to say it – the NCAA seriously dropped the ball on this. The body that governs this sport ought to be expected to handle that governance in a timely manner. There are games to be played, and the delays by the NCAA impact the teams who are waiting on the decisions.

It’s easy to feel picked on by this. After all, Houston transfer Joseph Young (who actually initially signed to Providence and had to sit a year for backing out of his NLI) was cleared to play immediately for Oregon after his father was demoted from director of basketball operations at Houston. This was decided on the 25th of October, well before word was passed along about Micah Mason’s legitimate medical hardship case. And  Robinson signed with Duquesne in April – surely that should have been enough time for the clearinghouse to get their act together.

Even if the answer is a negative, the people involved need to get on with life – and perhaps practice.

Knowing that we’re not alone, however, may help. Here are some other schools that have been impacted by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald – UNC

The circumstances around these guys aren’t so straightforward, but the Tar Heels’ pair are perhaps the biggest names still left hanging. Hairston had some drug charges that were dismissed, and the NCAA has been looking into improper benefits allegations. It isn’t clear what the full story is yet.

McDonald had his likeness used in a mouthguard ad even though UNC asked the company not to do it. Whoops. There has been no word on either situation despite being told that the decision one way or the other would be made prior to the season.

Danrad Knowles – Houston

The 6’10″ Knowles was finally cleared to play, but not until two games were in the books for the Cougars.

Ahmad Starks – Illinois

Starks had his waiver request denied by the NCAA. Originally with Oregon State, he wanted to move back to his home state to be closer to his family. Specifically, his grandmother who raised him had fallen ill, reportedly with Alzheimer’s. The reason that the NCAA gave for denying the waiver? Champaign, IL is twenty miles too far from his hometown of Chicago to count.

AJ West – Nevada

The JUCO transfer was expected to help Nevada shore up a rather weak frontcourt, but they haven’t heard anything yet despite getting his commitment way back in March. This is exacerbated by the fact that fellow big man and JUCO transfer Chris Brown has been suffering from blood clots and is unavailable until medically cleared. One of these things is uncontrollable. The other is something that should have been handled before the season started.

Jonathan Holton – WVU

Another player with less-than-wholesome circumstances surrounding his case. Holton originally played for URI, but was dismissed from school and faced charges of voyeurism. He played a year at JUCO (his coach said he was a great citizen while there) and committed to WVU in the spring. Still, the Mountaineers have yet to hear one way or another.

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These are just the players from schools who have the clout to make it newsworthy. Clearly, the NCAA has a problem and has been getting quite a lot of criticism – all of it deserved.

The question really is why the delays are occurring in the first place. There should really be a hard deadline on these cases. A school shouldn’t be forced into a situation where they have to hold a player out just because the NCAA hasn’t bothered made up their mind yet.

What if the player is later declared eligible? Let’s say that AJ West of Nevada was cleared tomorrow and really could have played all along. What difference could he have made for the 3-5 Wolf Pack in their two point loss to Pacific or their five point loss to Morehead State? Those could have been completely different games; perhaps the team would be 5-3 right now.

The fact that these players are in limbo fundamentally changes the game that is played out on the court. It’s unfair to the teams that are impacted.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of it is the lack of transparency, which makes it appear that they are doing nothing at all as the days drag on.

The NCAA must do better, and it needs to start immediately.

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