By Kevin Luo
Every couple of weeks or so, I hear a story that makes me ask the question, “NCAA, what is wrong with you?” This week, the NCAA was not alone in their lack of common sense. The University of Baylor had equally questionable decision-making in the choice to remove Silas Nacita from the football program this past week.
Nacita was a walk-on running back for the Bears who became a fan favorite this past season after his story was brought into the national spotlight. He was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 team and scored three touchdowns during his one season in Waco.
He transferred to Baylor from Cornell two years ago. He spent this first year taking classes at community college and sleeping on the floors of friends’ apartments. Once he earned enough money from academic scholarships, to attend school, he walked onto Baylor’s football team.
Although he earned enough to attend school, he was still broke and homeless. At first, he was content with continuing to sleep on floors, but when he was offered some financial assistance for an apartment from a family friend, he couldn’t turn it down.
This past week, he paid the price for accepting this assistance. Baylor announced that Nacita was being ruled ineligible for an NCAA rules violation since he received “impermissible benefits.”
The NCAA quickly made a statement to cover their behinds in the court of public opinion. Right after the decision came out, the NCAA Twitter account tweeted, “The NCAA did not declare Silas Nacita ineligible and Baylor has not requested a waiver for him.” The NCAA was trying to be the “good guy” and put all the blame on Baylor.
Good job, NCAA. Whether it was the NCAA or Baylor that officially declared Nacita ineligible, who comes out of this a winner? No one wins in this case. Even if Nacita was declared ineligible officially by Baylor, is anyone really dumb enough to believe that the NCAA didn’t directly or indirectly affect that decision, especially with rumors that the NCAA was investigating this case for months?
Although this is a horrible situation, Nacita took the high road in this case. He has come out and said publicly that he has made a mistake and should not have taken the housing assistance. But why was this such a mistake? This wasn’t a greedy kid. He just wanted somewhere to live. This kid was a walk-on. He wasn’t getting an athletic scholarship. It’s a shame that a player like Nacita gave so much to help Baylor and the NCAA as a whole, and now he’s getting penalized for something like this.
Next season, Baylor will be very good. I’m sure this story won’t be a big deal a year from now, but I just hope something good happens for Nacita and his story doesn’t become forgotten as he seems to be a great kid who just wants to play.
Baylor coach Art Briles has said that he will gladly have Nacita back if he’s ruled eligible. I wish he would make a stand in this situation, but I’m sure his hands are essentially tied.
The NCAA should start using some common sense when it comes to their rules. There shouldn’t always be strict letter-of-the-law decisions. A homeless player who is sleeping on apartment floors getting a handout to live semi-comfortably is different than a player getting thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from boosters and agents.
The fact that a player receiving housing assistance is getting crucified is a flat-out crime, and the decision is indicative of everything wrong with the NCAA.