12
Jan

VCU at Hofstra tips tonight on ESPNU. More on the game later, which will most likely not feature the first college game for Hofstra’s Brad Kelleher. Here’s why.

***

Who monitors the NCAA? What happens if a school or conference has a beef with due process, a decision, or an inattention to the blatantly unfair?

Who gets the grievance when the governing body, whose job is to do what’s best for its athletes, requires questioning? Right now, the NCAA handles appeals of NCAA decisions. Try saying that again with a straight face.

And here’s what I also don’t understand: how can a governing body assume the role of police, while at the same time being the ones who profit from the business in which they govern?

It doesn’t make sense.

Here’s why I ask: Brad Kelleher, a transfer to Hofstra from Midland junior college in Texas, still has not taken the court this season for the Pride.

The back story: Kelleher has not been granted eligibility by the NCAA because of his involvement with a professional team four years ago in his native Australia. Kelleher did not accept money, but the NCAA has not certified him as an amateur.

Hofstra has appealed the NCAA for his amateur certification, and the process has been dragging. (The CAA and Hofstra were contacted but politely declined any comment on the matter. As a matter of policy, the NCAA doesn’t comment on pending cases.)

That Kelleher played alongside professionals is against NCAA rules and Kelleher should rightfully be punished. That’s not the issue. Though it isn’t written in stone, these situations are generally handled on a game-for-game basis. It used to be two-for-one.

My point is that there exists ample precedence and the decision should be straightforward. The NCAA doesn’t even have to leave Long Island. Last season Hofstra’s Miklos Szabo was hit with two games because he played (two games) alongside professionals in Europe.

Pretty cut-and-dried, no? No.

The Kelleher investigation has passed the 120-day mark, and tonight’s Hofstra game against VCU will mark game #17. There is no end in sight, specifically because there is no word from the NCAA about Kelleher’s eligibility.

That is the injustice.

Some remember the case of John Wall. Perhaps you’ve read about him this year, as he’s a pretty good basketball player. The Kentucky freshman allegedly took money from an agent who also happened to be his AAU coach. Provided he paid back the money, Wall was penalized two games–one being an exhibition.

Now, let’s set aside the whole professional agent giving money to a college kid and the kid gets a penalty of two games. Let’s also set aside the whole part about evidence showing the kid received money but is still deemed an amateur by the NCAA. That stands on its own (ahem) merit. The NCAA can penalize how they see fit, and that’s the whole problem.

From its first report (Oct. 22 on ESPN) until its conclusion, the entire mess took eight days to sort out. The ruling came down just three days before Kentucky’s incredibly important exhibition against Campbellsville. Somehow Kentucky managed.

Eight days.

Due process.

Finalized at the beginning of the season.

This isn’t written to criticize Wall in the least. But it bears repeating: we’ve crossed 120 days and 17 games on a kid not taking money from an agent, but playing some summer hoops with professionals. A little consistency would be refreshing.

I challenge the math.

Even if there is a backlog of cases to investigate for the staff of 70 NCAA folks tabbed to follow eligibility, isn’t it about eight phone calls, three faxes, 15 emails, and six follow up phone calls?

Look it up in the rule book, write it up, have a one-hour meeting to ensure you’ve made the proper decision. One more hour to write the memo. One final hour to call all parties involved. Man hours, being generous, is about 20. Spread it out for three weeks to wait for responses and corporate mumbo-jumbo.

If one person worked for one hour on one day twice per week, given a five-day week, we’re at about 40 days. And I don’t think anyone has an issue with that because it is reasonable.

Let’s take it one step further. Kelleher signs in April 2009 with Hofstra. Paperwork is filed. One of the 70 people in the NCAA compliance office discovers the problem over the summer. The investigation begins, let’s say, October 1.

Tack the 40 days we set forth above and you get somewhere near theĀ  beginning of the basketball season–you know, like what happened with John Wall.

It reminds me of the old line that the NCAA was so mad at Kentucky for playing fast and loose with the rules that they put Cleveland State on probation.

Finally, I hate to “go here,” but I cannot help thinking this. John Wall is going to be playing in front of capacity crowds in NBA arenas next year. Brad Kelleher is going to be WATCHING John Wall play in the NBA next year. The NCAA needs its meal ticket and that’s what drives due process.

Here’s what cracks me up, in that darkly ironic way where everybody knows the truth and you admire the person who is able to speak the words with a straight face. UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, when Wall was cleared: “The NCAA staff worked to keep the welfare of the student-athlete in mind throughout this process.”

Who’s looking out for Brad Kelleher’s welfare?

8 Responses to “Riddle Me This…”

  1. Jim Says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike — and Beach owes you a six-pack of your favorite for taking up the cause of an erstwhile Hofstra player whose basketball career is being held hostage by the National Communists Against Athletes.

    This is more typical BS by the NCAA. If Kelleher had played his HS ball in NYC and transferred from Midland to Kansas, Duke, UNC or even UConn, the NCAA compliance people would’ve had his situation resolved months ago. Because Kelleher’s an Aussie trying to play for a small Long Island school in the itty bitty CAA, and none of the national media types will pay the situation any mind, the NCAA knows it can drag its heels indefinitely and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

    This is ridiculously unfair, arbitrary and heavy-handed punishment. Instead of behaving as if Kelleher was a 9/11 conspirator or kidnapped the Lindbergh baby, the NCAA compliance department needs to get off its collective butt and make this right ASAP.

    Maybe you can get Gary Parrish to devote some column inches to Kelleher’s situation? He seems to be one of the few national scribes willing to take on the NCAA — God knows nobody at the Worldwide Leader will risk biting the hand that feeds unless it benefits one of the top tier of the BCS.

  2. Coach Says:

    Mike, you are right on with this. Frankly, I know he has been mocked due to his past run-ins with the NCAA, but Tarkanian spoke a bit of truth yesterday, when he said that the NCAA is “the crookedest organization in our society.” While it may not be exactly the Gotti family, its dealings are just as underhanded.

  3. Shawn Says:

    Good stuff, Mike. It makes me wonder how the seeds will play out in March, too…clearly, this is another year where the CAA potentially deserves more than one bid, but we know how the NCAA loves their BCS schools with the future NBA talent. Good luck to Kelleher – I hope he gets a chance to suit up for the Pride at some point this season. As for Wall…I just hope Kentucky isn’t the last team standing, especially now that they have one of the biggest ______ (you pick the word) in college hoops as their coach.

    Just wondering…Why isn’t a story like this on ESPN’s “Behind the Lines” or elsewhere?

  4. Gary Moore Says:

    Mike

    Absolutely terrific, terrific article. There are so many reasons why I call the NCAA “No Clue At All” and this is just another example. Yes, they watch out for their “meal tickets”, yet show no consistency in their matters. And they don’t think people don’t notice. We need more writers like you to make it known.

    And having watched Kelleher in the Blue and White scrimmage this year, I can tell you, the kid is a legitimate outside shooter. And that’s what Hofstra is sorely lacking.

    The worst thing is the poor kid is in limbo. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the worst crime of it all.

  5. mlitos Says:

    Gary–spot on. The kid is going to class, practicing with the team, and doing everything that is asked of him.

    Jim–not directed at you, but ESPN taking up the cause? Fat chance. Not with the tourney TV contract coming up, expansion being discussed, and teevee opportunity looming.

    Due process, in its endemic state, is about fairness. That’s all I’m asking.

  6. Plenty of people having a bad week in sports – The Cheap Seat - Wilmington Star News - Wilmington, NC - Archive Says:

    [...] a timely fashion, even if the result (as in the WVU case) is ludicrous. But if you’ve got an Australian player in the CAA, or a player that could make your team competitive with Kentucky in the SEC? Nah, we’ll just [...]

  7. Surprise! NCAA makes a mess with Alfy Hill, won’t fess up to it – The Cheap Seat - Wilmington Star News - Wilmington, NC - Archive Says:

    [...] because I wrote about the strange, vacuous ways of the NCAA a little bit earlier this year, and CAA hoops savant Litos expounded on in the case of Hofstra guard Brad [...]

  8. Kelleher Case Reaches Unsettling End… Says:

    [...] We discussed the registration-form-as-contract when it first popped up last year. In the months since that time, the NCAA classified Kelleher as a professional, and an NCAA appeals committee upheld that decision. The penalty is a two-for-one, leading to the eight games this season. [...]

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