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Kevin Short, KU football latest victims of NCAA ineptitude
Friday, for the second year in a row, the NCAA declared a member of the Kansas University football team ineligible to play a single down for the Jayhawks because of circumstances outside of football.
And, for the second year in a row, common sense failed to prevail. Anyone noticing that this is becoming quite a pattern with the NCAA?
KU coach Charlie Weis announced Friday morning that cornerback Kevin Short, a transfer from Fort Scott Community College, had been ruled ineligible for the 2013 season because the NCAA deemed that Short's first season at Kansas would be best spent solidifying his academic standing. Next time, they might as well just call Paul Buskirk, KU's associate athletic director for student support, arrange a meeting and kick him in the groin.
Declaring Short ineligible not only takes away the young man's opportunity to play football — a dream for which Short worked his butt off this summer to make a reality — but it also sends a message to Kansas that the NCAA does not believe those in charge of admissions know what they're doing.
Hogwash. You won't find a school anywhere on the planet that has an athletic department, a football coach and a man like Buskirk that is as dedicated to the academic success of their students.
Weis clearly agrees. In a statement released to the media Friday morning, he expressed his frustration over the matter that comes just a year after the NCAA rejected Justin McCay's appeal for immediate eligibility due to personal hardships too private to mention publicly.
“Kevin's junior college transcript was better than most and indicated no reason to expect anything other than academic success,” Weis said in the release. “...We asked the NCAA representatives to allow Kevin to speak to them so he could show them how he had overcome adversity in life to become a proud new student, but they rejected that request. We are extremely disappointed with this decision.”
Who could blame them? This reeks of more hypocrisy from the NCAA office and, perhaps worse, continues to promote the image of inconsistency that now governs college athletics. Think about it: The powers that be at the NCAA essentially are telling Short and KU that the young man can do everything the rest of his teammates can except play in a three-hour game every Saturday. Gotcha. I'm sure freeing up those hours will really help Short's pursuit of a degree. What a joke.
Knowing Weis and what academics mean to him, he won't let it be a joke. Because the situation is what it is and there's nothing they can do about it, Short probably will be held out of certain football obligations in order to spend more time with the tutors.
The bummer of it all is Short does not need that. Sure, he worked overtime this summer to gain the necessary grades and hours to be able to transfer — evidently, hard work is now red-flagged — but he more than met the requirements needed for admission to KU. He came to Lawrence with a grade-point average well above the 2.5 requirement and also had nearly a semester's worth of additional transferable hours than he needed.
Short's absence will hurt the Jayhawks. He had starter written all over him and, just over a week ago, Weis called him one of the most talented players on the roster. However, since he arrived late and had not yet played a game, the result should not cripple the product on the field.
But football is only part of the reason Weis and company are disappointed by the NCAA's unwillingness to work with yet another Jayhawk who deserved a break. Weis hurts for Short and the message this ruling sends him and all of that hard work he put in this summer.
"Although I am disappointed for our team, I am much more concerned for Kevin personally,” Weis said. “We discussed the situation with Kevin today and although it was tough to explain the rationale of the NCAA, we are moving forward turning this into a red-shirt year focusing on academics."
This whole thing will probably end well for Short. He gets the extra year of college that not only will help him secure a degree but also will better prepare him for a potential pro career and he still has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
The NCAA is not so lucky, as it has added another chapter of ineptitude to its rapidly deteriorating resume. This chapter may not be one that the rest of the nation cares much about, but when it's bound together with stacks of others like it, it will be part of a powerful how-not-to book for leadership: Governing for Dummies. When is enough enough?