Vanderdoes Appeal Show Why NCAA Needs Control of NLI

If Eddie Vanderdoes had enrolled at Notre Dame and decided to transfer to UCLA because of a family member’s medical situation, there would be little doubt about the process he would have to go through. UCLA would file an appeal on Vanderdoes’ behalf for him to be immediately eligible. That appeal would need to document things like the injury or illness itself, that the athlete would be involved in the care of the family member, that something changed in the family member’s health that prompted the decision, and that the new institution is within 100 miles of the family member.

Many of those details are not public yet, so it is hard to say whether Vanderdoes would win a transfer appeal. But predicting the outcome of an NLI release appeal is even harder. While the NCAA Eligibility Center administers the NLI, it is governed by the Conference Commissioners Association, which sets terms and signing dates as well as deciding appeals through the NLI Committee and NLI Appeals Committee.

This creates a situation where, like the BCS, the NCAA is likely to be blamed for a decision it has little to no control over. The people likely to make the decision are the same type of collection of coaches, administrators, and conference staff that make up NCAA committees and cabinets. But they may not be bound by NCAA waiver standards, and the decision takes much longer than an typical NCAA waiver (6-8 weeks vs. 3-4 weeks).

All this is a good reason for the NCAA to be in charge of not just the paperwork, but also the meaning of that paperwork. Any number of NCAA governance groups could handle oversight of the NLI, including the Athletics Personnel and Recruiting Cabinet or the Leadership Council. The NCAA waiver staff is well equipped to handle initial appeals of NLI releases. And the same group that sets the NLI’s language and signing dates can handle the second appeal if necessary.

Throw in standards similar to the ones for transfer waivers and it would at the very least bring a level of consistency to a student-athlete’s experience. It could also be proof-of-concept for a number of needed NCAA changes, like giving more authority to the athletic directors in the Leadership Council and establishing another system where athletes deal directly with the NCAA instead of through a member institution.

Posted on by John Infante
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8 Responses to Vanderdoes Appeal Show Why NCAA Needs Control of NLI

  1. Anonymous says:

    No, the NCAA is not “well equipped” to handle this. The NCAA has shown that it makes and interprets rules in a haphazard way to ensure the outcome they want. If Vanderose were transferring to say, Florida or Ohio State, the NCAA certainly would be quick to find a hardship waiver. However, since he’s transferring to a west coast school, no doubt the NCAA (fueled by corruption favoring east coast schools) would find no hardship no matter what the facts were. The reality is that ND should have just cleanly released the kid to go play ball – just like USC did with the transfer of Amir Carlisle to Notre Dame, and Amir was actually a player at USC and USC plays ND every year. Brian Kelly’s purported justification for denying Venderoes’ release is absolutely BS in trying to keep integrity of the recruiting and signing process. I’d like to have seen the same rules in place for Brian Kelly when he decided to leave Cinci for Notre Dame….oh, it’s different when a coach wants to leave, right? The NCAA – the very body that is to “protect” the student athlete has rules to ensure that the student athletes are locked in to a scholarship, while the coach can job jump all he wants. Wonder who the NCAA is really looking out for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous, I realize that you also believe that George Bush was behind 9/11, that the whole “man on the moon” thing was really trick photography and the both Elvis and JFK are still alive. Could you please present some evidence, not opinion, to substantiate your “corruption favoring east coast schools” comment. If you think that ND should have released the kid, that is fine. That is an opinion and you are entitled to one. However for the life of me I can’t see how you worked an NCAA angle in on your rant. The NCAA has nothing to do with this decision. By the way, for what it is worth, Ohio State and especially Florida are pretty darn good and it has nothing to do with the NCAA. They have better players. Possibly a tough concept to grasp but seem if it makes sense to you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure. Even Infante agrees that the decision by the COI and its handling of the USC case is unreconcilable with any other NCAA infractions decision. Infante has a blog in which he, begrudgingly after trying to defend the NCAA for years, admitted that the USC case was an “outlier.” So, from a West coast vantage point, we have a school get hammered for the wrong doings of Reggie Bush, but USC’s involvement at best was very minor. The thrust of the point was that USC “should have known of RB’s dealings.” And the NCAA hung this finding on some very week circumstantial evidence – a photograph (that showed nothing), a phone record, which the COI had the wrong date (which was material, because the actual date was after RB was no longer a USC football player) and the statement of an felon, whose statements weren’t even corroborated by the felon’s own girlfriend. Now, you don’t even need to take my word on this, since you think my offering up facts are somehow an opinion. However, a federal district court just ruled in November that the Todd McNair (the USC coach) has likely shown that the COI had a wanton disregard for the truth. Let me repeat that for you, so that there’s no confusion. The NCAA’s purported “truth finding” body basically knowingly disregarded the truth.

        And then immediately following the announcement of USC’s penalties, the NCAA publicly announced that the NCAA was not bound to follow precedent, which basically means that the NCAA is free to dole out punishments in a haphazard way without any reference to what it has done in the past. Even courts, interpreting 1000′s and 1000′s of laws and 1000′s on top of 1000′s of different fact patterns must follow precedent. Why? It’s a fundamental principle of due process to ensure that all people are treated relatively the same.

        Now, with that background of (1) handing out unprecedented penalties against USC (west coast school in case you’re confused) and (2) a public statement by the NCAA that it’s not going to follow precedent, let’s take a look at some recent high profile infractions cases and see how the NCAA handled them and see how they reconcile to USC:

        1. Ohio State (Midwest to East Coast): The Head Football Coach (not an assistant) is caught with documented proof that he lied to the NCAA which kept the players eligible to play in a bowl game. No Lack of Institutional Control (NCAA definition basically says if a head coach is involved then this is an LOIC). Loss of one bowl game and 2 scholarships.

        2. North Carolina (East Coast). Assistant Head Football Coach is shown to be on the payroll of an agent and he is funnelling players to the agent. Widespread academic fraud that is still coming to light. Loss of I believe one bowl game (cant’ recall) and 15 schollies.

        3. Miami (East Coast). Widespread benefits case involving close to 70 players where multiple assistant coaches were involved and at some of the improper events. Verdict still out but the NCAA has botched the investigation which likely will be a justification for handing out lighter penalties. Interestingly, the Miami Athletic director was the Chairman of USC’s COI, and now his school, which was involved in much wider spread wrongdoing, will likely get lighter penalties.

        5. Mississippi State (East Coast). Had booster paying a player to come to the school. Accepted the school’s self-imposed light penalties.

        6. Central Florida (East Coast): Candidly, I don’t even know the whole facts, other than school administration was involved in improper recruiting. However, Infante (the author of this blog) cited to the Central Flordia case as being the most egregious of wrongdoing. Penalties: 15 lost schollies and loss of a bowl, I believe, which were eventually overturned as being “too harsh” by the appeals committee.

        These, son, are facts. From those facts, I reached the conclusion that the independence of the NCAA and the COI is extremely compromised by virtue of the affiliations of those who sit on the COI – in other words, corrupt. In any other context, the COI membership would be so conflicted that the members would be required to recuse themselves. And I’m not the only one who has observed this. The NCAA admitted as much in the early 2000′s to Congress that the COI should be composed of independent (non-school affiliated) members. However, the NCAA, for some reason, has never implemented what it has admitted is a best practice.

        So, you have an infractions committee made of representatives from a few member schools, which membership gives the appearance if nothing else of a conflict of interest. Couple this with the NCAA hammmering a west coast school, immediately disavowing any obligation to follow precedent (i.e., an admission that the COI overreached), and then a number of subsequent infractions cases that don’t really follow the standard established in the USC case, then it’s not hard for one to conclude that the COI may have a tad case of corruption.

        If it looks like a pig, talks like a pig and smells like a pig, then it’s highly likely that it in fact is a pig.

      • Anonymous says:

        By the way, the NCAA angle is based on Infante’s statement that he thinks the NCAA is perfectly situated to handle this sort of transfer/LOI issue. My initial response, if you reread it, is to state why I don’t think the NCAA should be handling more regulations and making more decisions, because, as noted above, my belief is that the NCAA is corrupt and will just use this new rule in an inconsistent and haphazard way. I know for the life of you, you had a hard time trying to understand the angle, but I have a simple suggestion for you: try reading comprehension.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous you are completely wrong. Vanderdoes committed to school. He also accepted a scholarship and new rules regarding releases. He also tied up a spot in ND’s recruiting class and probably denied another kid from receiving a scholarship offer. Plus, UCLA most likely, violated NCAA rules and tampered with him before receiving ND’s permission. Also, there is no evidence that I see of a hardship nor why he should play in full. Lastly, coaches can leave when they want provided that have a contract buy-out clause. Kelly paid UC to leave and they gladly accepted the cash. if schools do not want coaches leave, don’t have buy-out clauses. Kelly had every right to leave UC after paying his buy-out. Great post outside of those details.

      -Tim

      • Anonymous says:

        Right. And all this is true with Amir Carlise or Seantrel Henderson (USC commit and NUMBER 1 Recruit), who USC let out of his committment during the summer so that Seantrel could go play for Miami….identical situation as to ND and Vanderoes. There was no hardship here either. Seantrel just didn’t want to play for USC after the sanctions were handed down, but he signed his LOI knowing that USC could get punished. But this just goes to why I think ND looks bad the way they’re handling this.

        Your assumption about UCLA and violating rules is pure speculation, and until there are facts on this point, it’s not worth anyone’s time to address and is irrelevant point. I could argue the same about Miami and Henderson.

        As to coaches leaving their school and having buy out contract clauses, you are also wrong. It is illegal to have a contract that prohibited a person from working for someone else. I don’t need to belabor the point here, but it’s considered a violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. consititution which banned slavery. As a result, schools (and businesses) include buyout clauses and other provisions to make themselves somewhat whole when someone quits, since it’s illegal to contractually prohibit someone from quitting or working for a competitor.

        So, Tim, your post is great as well, other than your completely unsubstantiated assumption that UCLA violated some rules and the fact that you have no clue what you’re talking about when it comes to employment contracts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    He needs to sit. He could play for ND this year and then transfer. then have to sit out a year too. Seemd this is about his trainer not getting a job at ND like he and his father wanted. Seems his trainer was just hired by anyone anyone? UCLA. UCLA is going to get some NCAA visitors for sure. He signed a deal. He still gets a scholarship to UCLA and a year of Education can practice but can’t play. There are worst things that could have happend. Man up.

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