NCAA’s Handling of Former Monarch, Donte Hill: Points to a Flawed System
Life as a student-athlete is not always fair.
Such is the case of now-former Old Dominion Monarch Donte Hill, who recently was denied his final appeal for an additional season of competition.
As a result of denial, Hill’s days in a Monarch uniform are over.
The situation stems from Hill having played eight minutes in a closed scrimmage at the University of Clemson two years ago; days before he would announce his decision to transfer to ODU. In reference to, Ed Miller and Harry Minium of The Virginian Pilot who initially outlined this reality.
Although the final decision is still angering Monarchs fans, Hill’s actions did indeed fall under bylaw 14.2 of the NCAA’s Constitution and Bylaws Manual, which states that “any amount of time played in a competition—joint practice sessions, scrimmages, exhibitions, etc.—utilizes costs a season of eligibility.”
While the letter of the law was followed in regards to Hill, his situation and others signify that there are flaws in the decision making of the NCAA.
This year alone, NCAA officials have allegedly handled numerous other matters in ways that did not always flow in accordance with the bylaws.
Rutgers shooting guard, Kerwin Okoro recently had his hardship waiver request; usually granted on the basis of an extenuating circumstance, denied. Having transferred from Iowa State to Rutgers, the waiver would have allowed him to play immediately without having to sit out the coming season.
So, why did he transfer in the first place?
He transferred because he wanted to be closer to his mother following the deaths of his father and brother.
In the eyes of many, this seems as an extenuating circumstance. According to Fox Sports’ Nick Creegan, the hardship waiver applies to tending to a sick family member and the death of an immediate family member does not count.
What is rather peculiar about the denials is, although the rulebook is there for a reference when making decisions. The committee has absolute power to grant a waiver if they so choose, following a thorough review
In the cases of Hill and Okoro they have done just that.
However, is it fair?
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg noted, the NCAA denying Okoro’s request is surprising because “the most common complain…is that the organization hands out waiver requests like candy.”
No truer words have been spoken, seeing as the committee granted Texas Christian shooting guard, Trey Zeigler. Who played for Central Michigan and Pittsburgh a waiver to play immediately last year after having transferred from CMU to Pitt.
Why? In accordance to Eisenberg, his request was accepted because his father, Ernie Zeigler. Who eventually would come to lose his job as the head coach of Central Michigan’s basketball program.
When taken at face value, Zeigler’s “extenuating circumstance” does not level up to that of Okoro’s.However, if the committee was willing to allow Zeigler the right to play immediately, why were they unwilling to give Hill a pass?
Such decision-making is bewildering in the least, and it did not take long for college basketball’s analysts to speak out against NCAA president, Mark Emmert and the committee.
Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst, Dick Vitale took to Twitter recently. Vitale expresses although he firmly believes Emmert is a sensible man, the NCAA has “to do what is right” and rule Hill and Okoro eligible.
ESPN insider, Jeff Goodman also used Twitter as his platform for denunciation. Sarcastically stating Emmert and Co must “sit around and play rock-paper-scissors” as a means to making decisions.
After a cataclysmic season, where fans watched the Monarchs go from being a formidable force in the Colonial Athletic Association to one of the bottom feeders in the conference. Seeing Hill leave in this fashion is the ultimate stab to the heart of Monarch’s nation.
Through the good times and the bad, Hill was a testament to hard work leading to success as evident by the CAA, in correlation to all the academic honors he received last season.
Heading into their first season in the Conference USA, the Monarchs will have to tough it out without the veteran leadership of Hill.
The Monarchs will now have to turn to upperclassmen, Richard Ross and Dimitri Batten for leadership. As the team embarks on a new journey under the direction of new head coach Jeff Jones.
In addition with Hill out of the fold, the bulk of the scoring load will now be thrown upon the shoulders of Batten and second-year players, Aaron Bacote and Keenan Palmore.
Seeing Hill leave in such a mournful fashion is a tough pill to swallow. And although the way his situation and Okoro’s ordeal, were handled are sickening the rules were followed.
By Eric Guy