Less than three hours before NC State tipped at home vs. Bryant on Tuesday night, the NCAA sent a one-sentence press release in the form of a tweet that undid something.
So Braxton Beverly — who started taking summer credits at Ohio State then put in for a transfer after Thad Matta’s delayed firing — will get to play this season for NC State after all.
A triumph for him, and a better-late-then-never make-good for the NCAA. This is the right move by the organization, but it shouldn’t have taken “additional information” in the first place. (I’m told that the NCAA’s tweet above will be its final public word on the matter. There will be no further details coming.) Beverly’s case was so clear, so pure in intention and transparent in reasoning. He will not be getting any special treatment, nor did his case threaten to be a precedent-setting decision that would turn college hoops on its edge.
The coach who recruited him (Matta) got fired, so Beverly felt out of place. He did some soul-searching, landed elsewhere and was in great academic standing to play. Now, fortunately, he will. But it’s unfortunate that his family had to pony up for billable hours. Let the record strongly reflect that Beverly lawyered up, threatened to take this to court, and in short order Beverly found himself in the clear. That was big enough to spur the NCAA to make a move toward reconsideration, apparently.
But that’s the only reason why he’ll log minutes on Tuesday night and get to play in 2017-18.
When it comes to basic moral arguments for player eligibility, lawyers shouldn’t even be in the picture. The NCAA’s unnecessarily gungy rulebook required it to get to this point.
Fact is, players aren’t committing to college bailing in June — before their freshman seasons even begin — only to go elsewhere and hit the reset button. The transfer mindset has become in vogue in the past decade, but it doesn’t apply here. Beverly’s case was an anomaly, and it has finally been ruled as so.
“Coach Keatts has been awesome the whole time with this,” Beverly wrote last week. “Twice, he’s had to give me bad news. When my waiver was denied the first time a few weeks ago, Coach Keatts was calm. He told me he didn’t agree with the decision, but he talked me through the process and told me it wasn’t over yet. He let me know how we were filing the appeal and he was confident everything would be fine.
“When he told me that my appeal had been denied earlier this week, I could tell how upset he was. I took it pretty hard. I was shocked. I think Coach was, too. Some of my family might have taken it even harder, my uncle probably took it the hardest out of everybody.”
For further clarity on this matter, the additional information meant that the case was re-tried from the start. With new evidence, essentially, the NCAA started from square one. And the members on the committee — the Division I Committee for Legislative Relief — who rejected Beverly’s case the first go-round were not dumb enough to do it again.
NC State sent out this video tweet before tip on Tuesday. Great moment for Beverly. No player will feel more gratitude on Tuesday night than him.
So this turns to a good ending, with some kudos for the NCAA … but how bad it is it that it takes multiple columns and editorials from national pundits, and an onslaught of attacks on social media toward the NCAA, for change to be sparked? We should have semi-annual firework shows of outrage to catalyze change for the betterment of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds.
Wouldn’t it be great if we heard all about how players were getting cleared by their schools, and conferences, rather than waiting on the NCAA’s miles-long queue of eligibility cases?
I know of two players who wish that were the case. They’re still out of luck:. Until their cases are properly resolved, and ruled with the level-headed objectivity that both Hayes and Battey deserve, then the NCAA hasn’t fixed anything. It’s just patchwork on a problem that keeps surfacing, with a solution it seems uninterested in turning to: Leave matters of eligibility on the schools and the conferences.