Egyptian basketball players Aly Ahmed and Ahmed Hamdy have been deemed ineligible to play this season by the NCAA despite their claims they followed the advice of a former Division I assistant coach.
Ahmed will sit this season at Cal State Bakersfield, and Hamdy has been ruled ineligible at the University of Houston. Both players told ESPN they received poor advice from former Rice University and FIU assistant Marco Morcos, who helped bring both players to the United States.
Both players allege that Morcos told them to remain enrolled at Trent InternationalE School, a decision which resulted in both players getting caught by the delayed enrollment rule and having to sit out this year. Ahmed also says he was charged a season of competition in addition to the required year-in-residence. Morcos denies that he gave the athletes advice which would jeopardize their eligibility.
While this seems like a slam dunk for the players, Morcos’ misinformation might not be decisive. Coaches are not considered authorities on NCAA rules. They have to know the rules, but student-athletes and prospects should not rely on what a coach says about NCAA rules. The explanation for why is straight-forward: what a coach says to a prospect during the recruiting process should be treated more like a sales pitch and less like legal advice. Had the two student-athletes been advised by a compliance office that staying at Trent would not impact their eligibility, their case would be more likely to succeed.
That is a harsh stance though. Prospects might have minimal or no contact with the compliance office and are put in an awkward position when they have to question someone they view as in a position of authority. Perhaps Ahmed’s and Hamdy’s cases can start moving toward more leeway for athletes when coaches give them bad advice.