NCAA crosses line in latest suspension

Mike Fazzini

On Nov. 14, the NCAA suspended Syracuse point guard Billy Edelin for twelve games because he violated the NCAA’s outside competition rules. Edelin, who was not even a student at Syracuse when he participated in a local recreational basketball league with adults between the ages of 40 and 50, was suspended one game for every league game he participated in, a total of twelve. Edelin lost his appeal and will be forced to sit out until January 18, when Syracuse plays Pittsburgh.

During his suspension, the point guard will miss key match-ups against Georgia Tech, Missouri, Seton Hall and Boston College.Edelin enrolled in Syracuse in the fall of 2001, but was suspended from the university after two female students accused him of sexual misconduct.

Although charges were never formally brought against Edelin, he was forced to sit out last season.

Since he was suspended from the university, he played in a recreational league with older men. Once the NCAA found out about it, he was suspended.

Needless to say, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim is furious with the NCAA.

“I didn’t know this was a rule,” Boeheim said. “It was my fault. If they want to suspend me, then they should. I talked to 100 coaches and no one knew of this rule. I don’t think he should miss any games. He played in rec league games against people 50 years old.”

He continued by saying, “It’s unbelievable that he got a one game for one game suspension. It’s unbelievable. I’m absolutely baffled. Every time I read something about the NCAA, it’s helping student-athletes. But [Edelin] did not know about this rule. They said we should have told him, but we didn’t. The fairness and compassion to an 18-year-old kid is not there. I would have rather sat 10 games. It’s really something. I’m in total disbelief.”

Boeheim isn’t the only one fired up about the NCAA’s suspension of Edelin. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale brought it up during Syracuse’s game against Memphis on national television.

“What advantage is Edelin getting over people wearing collegiate uniforms?” Vitale said. We should be helping kids instead of hurting kids. Get real and get after those who put cash, clothes and jewelry in front of them. Will Johnson of North Carolina was given a suspension for participating in a three-on-three charity event to raise money for cancer patients. What are we doing? This is absurd. Edelin should be in uniform and shouldn’t have to sit 12 games. I hope Syracuse battles this; it’s almost criminal in nature.

As much as it pains me to sympathize with Jim Boeheim, he raises a valid point. The way I see it, Edelin’s participation in this event in no way gave him an unfair advantage over other student-athletes.

He was playing against 40 year old men while he was suspended from the university. Let’s not forget that at the exact same time that he was playing in this rec league, the real college basketball season was in full swing.

The other student-athletes were playing real games. If this had been the off-season, where the rules are a little clearer, things might have been different. In the off-season, players are only allowed to participate in NCAA sanctioned events. Another issue I have with this suspension is that Edelin wasn’t on the basketball team at the time. He was suspended from the university. I would think that if he was suspended, that he couldn’t be considered a student-athlete and the NCAA’s ridiculous rules wouldn’t apply to him. Unfortunately the rules committee saw otherwise and Edelin is suspended again.

This time however, there is nothing that can justify his suspension.