Two Akron junior men’s basketball players, Nick Harney and Demetrius Treadwell, will miss the first three games of the season because prior to starting their careers last year, they failed to get final amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center:
“It is most unfortunate that these two student-athletes will suffer because of an NCAA requirement that our compliance office failed to verify,” Akron athletics director Tom Wistrcill said Friday in a statement. “Both Nick and Demetrius have worked extremely hard in the classroom since stepping foot on campus two years ago as non-qualifiers and are tracking to graduate on time and to earn back their fourth year of eligibility.
“Due to their immediate certification, we feel absolutely no competitive advantage was gained as a result of them playing last season and it is difficult for us to understand how the NCAA’s decision to withhold them from competition is in the best interests of these student-athletes.”
As nonqualifiers, it is easy to understand why Harney and Treadwell fell through the cracks. They did not practice or play as freshman, so they did not need final amateurism certification in their first year at Akron. By the time the compliance office was ready to certify them for practice and competition in 2011-12, the compliance staff would have been focused on the academic benchmarks for nonqualifiers to regain eligibility, not amateurism certification for incoming freshmen.
Akron was also trying to win a reduction of the suspension, another reason the violation is being framed as a compliance mistake. But ultimately final amateurism certification is a responsibility of the student-athlete. The athlete, not the compliance office, needs to go in, review the amateurism information, and sign off for a final certification. The athlete, not the compliance office, gets the reminders from the NCAA. A three-game suspension for failing to check a box on a website might still be harsh, but the athletes are not without blame.