November 12, 2013
The NCAA is up to its shenanigans again.
And thanks to a column by Doug Robinson in the Deseret News – NCAA wrong again in case of BYU cross-country runner stripped of eligibility for costume race – we are going to try to do something about it.
In 2007, former Foot Locker finalist and now four-time All-American and 13:37 man Jared Ward graduated from high school. He went on a Mormon mission from September 2007 to September 2009 and enrolled at BYU that January.
In November of 2009, before enrolling in BYU, Ward went to watch his younger brother run at the Foot Locker West race. While there, Jared hopped into the Foot Locker Open Division Supporter race which included people from their teens to 70s. Ward won the race in 15:47 and guess what he got in return?
The NCAA has docked him a full year of eligibility for competing against outside competition while not enrolled in school and thus he can’t run for #5 BYU this year. The weird thing is the NCAA rules make no sense. If Ward was a college student, he could have race unattached all season long against way more elite competition like scores of redshirts each and every year and not been docked a season of competition – it would have just been viewed as his redshirt year. But since he didn’t enroll in school that semester, he was docked a full season.
That’s just stupid.
Now, in the past, including just a few days ago, when the media got hold of similar stupid story about with a Mormon basketball player at Colgate losing a season for playing in a church basketball league with a guy who had never played basketball before, the NCAA has reversed course.
Since LetsRun.com is practically all that’s left of the running media, we are taking it upon ourselves to try to help Ward out.
In our minds, Ward’s career should be like this:
2009 – (de-facto redshirt/ran footlocker)
2010 – Freshmen
2011 – Sophomore
2012 – Junior
2013 – Senior
Quick Take #1 (QT #1): We know some people are going to not support Ward/BYU in this case because they are uncomfortable with the whole “over-aged Mormons back from their missions competing” thing (for the record, Ward is 25). In our mind this is a separate issue.
To us, whether someone runs in an outside race whether unattached while in college or individually on their own while not enrolled, shouldn’t be treated differently by the NCAA. In the former, you are just red-shirting, in the latter, you are docked a full season.
Additionally, the NCAA shouldn’t treat non-revenue sports like cross country any differently than basketball. Common sense took over in the case of the basketball player, not some arcane rule, why can’t the NCAA reverse course here?
QT #2: All of that being said, we are a little bit uncomfortable as to how the original Deseret News story tries to act like Ward didn’t compete in a legitimate race because the Foot Locker race included people with costumes. The whole fact that there was a guy in a gorilla suit was picked up by USA Today as well.
We know it’s probably hard to build sentiment without having a flashy story to sell that embarrasses the NCAA, but in our minds, he did run in a legitimate race (there are people in costumes often at major marathons after all), but that’s irrelevant for us. It’s just a stupid rule.
QT #3: Not that you asked, but we believe Mormons should be given six total years from the time they graduate high school to compete four seasons of eligibility (four seasons of competition and two for the Mission) not basically seven as they are now, but that’s for another day.
Discuss this in our messageboard: NCAA Declares BYU’s Jared Ward Ineligible becaus of Fun Run