NCAA issues waiver decision for Ole Miss student-athlete: The NCAA staff has granted a graduate student transfer waiver for University of Mississippi football student-athlete Jeremiah Masoli, but he must wait until the 2011-12 academic year to compete. Read more »
By Ronnie Ramos
The case of Jeremiah Masoli, the quarterback who graduated from Oregon and has enrolled at Ole Miss, has brought attention to the NCAA’s waiver process for graduate students.
The NCAA this week granted Masoli a waiver to play at Mississippi but ruled he must wait until the 2011-12 season.
In its decision, the NCAA staff noted Masoli was unable to participate at Oregon based on his dismissal from the team, which is contrary to the intent of the waiver opportunity. The waiver process exists to provide relief to student-athletes who transfer to pursue graduate studies for academic reasons. The staff reasoned that the intent was not for student-athletes to avoid disciplinary measures at another university.
Mississippi is appealing the NCAA decision.
NCAA member institutions, which approve the rules governing the eligibility of graduate student-athletes, have debated the best way to handle such cases.
In 2007, the membership overwhelmingly overrode a rule change that allowed all graduate student transfers to be eligible immediately if they met specific conditions. Instead, the membership supported a waiver process with third-party scrutiny to resolve cases that are academically motivated.
The 2007 override vote drew comments from both sides of the issue. At the end, there was strong support for continuing academically based waivers and for a supporting process.
Student-athletes should be “able to transfer through a waiver process that has quality control, because it is for academic and not athletic reasons,” Carol Iwaoka, associate commissioner for governance at the Big Ten Conference said at the 2007 Convention. The Big Ten argued to have the waiver process “in place so those student-athletes who truly deserve to transfer for financial, academic or personal reasons can still have access in that manner.”
Other groups in favor of the waiver process included the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which was represented by its executive director, James Haney.
Members also cited a concern that without a case-by-case review of waiver requests, there could be a second round of recruiting for players who have graduated and still have eligibility remaining.
“Let’s create new legislation that will provide flexibility for those deserving student-athletes who have the support of their institutions without creating a chaotic free agency,” said Kenneth Kavanagh of Bradley.
Media reports have portrayed several aspects of this case incorrectly. Current NCAA rules do not allow a football graduate student to participate at a school other than the one from which he earned his undergraduate degree without a waiver being granted. Contrary to recent media reports, the rules do not allow such a transfer to “sit out a year” and play the following academic year.
Questions also were raised about the timing of the decision. The decision was communicated to the school within the generally stated three-week time frame for this type of waiver. The NCAA staff received the waiver request from Ole Miss on Aug. 13 and received the final piece of information from the school in the evening of Aug. 30. After considering that final piece of information, the NCAA staff communicated the decision to the school in the morning of Aug. 31.