ESPN’s report tonight that John Wall may have an eligibility issue with the NCAA immediately kicked up a flurry of dust in the Bluegrass, as anything does when it has to do with NCAA basketball.
But on its face, it appears a pretty simple matter, and not a major one.
Wall’s AAU coach was also a registered athlete agent, according to ESPN. During Wall’s junior season, the player received some benefits from his AAU coach — but because his coach was also an agent, those were impermissible benefits according to NCAA rule.
Or may have been. The NCAA would be well within its rights to conclude that the coach’s role as an AAU coach superseded his role as an agent, and no further action is needed. However, SEC commissioner Mike Slive confirming to ESPN that Wall does have an eligibility issue would seem to point to this being, indeed, a problem with the NCAA.
How big a problem? Likely not too big.
It simply will be a matter of Wall paying back whatever he was given during that season, and he’ll likely miss a small number of games.
What’s the process for all this. Read this excerpt from the NCAA web site:
The student-athlete’s educational institution becomes aware of the . . . provision of benefits to the student-athlete. The institution must declare the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate competition. The institution decides to ask for the reinstatement of the student-athlete’s eligibility and sends a request to the NCAA staff.
At a minimum, the student-athlete will be required to repay the value of the impermissible benefits and will be withheld from a certain number of contests, based on case precedent.
That’s about it.
There could be complications. If Wall’s coach, for instance, paid for any of his travel to UK or anything connected with his recruitment, that could be something that needs to be untangled. And just the process of getting at exactly what and how much was provided isn’t the easiest thing in the world. So it takes time. The NCAA is famous for finding little wrinkles in its bylaws that you hadn’t thought about.
The last time this happened with a player I was covering it was Simeon Naydenov at U of L, who had received some benefits through a club team he played with in Europe. I think he had to pay back some money and wound up missing three games.
Generally, you don’t hear about these stories until right before exhibition games, because the back-and-forth with the NCAA can go right up to the start of the season.
UPDATE: Years of counseling and electro-shock therapy made me temporarily forget Derrick Caracter. He, in fact, also was found to have taken impermissible benefits from family friend and agent and runner Eddie Lau, and had to sit for three games before making his U of L debut.