Eddie Young, sidelined for weeks while his eligibility was sorted out, was not given a fifth year by the NCAA today. Details about the ruling are sparse, but also unknown is what it means for the UC-Riverside baseball team. They may have to vacate the wins Young participated in before he was declared ineligible and withheld from competition.
The issue stems from Young’s freshmen season in 2009. According to UCR’s stats, Young played in 12 games before missing the rest of the season with an injury. The 12th game, on April 9, 2009 vs. Cal State Bakersfield, was UCR’s 28th game in a scheduled slate of 54, 53 of which were completed. So while Young participated in less than 30% of the season (12/53 = 22.6), he participated in the second half of the season, meaning he is not eligible for a medical hardship waiver.
The NCAA does occasionally grant medical hardship waivers to athletes who do not meet the criteria, although they are some of the toughest waivers to get. What appeared to be the big issue for UCR, that the school forgot to request Young’s waiver back in 2009, might have made long odds insurmountable. A school must show a compelling reason why an athlete who did not meet the criteria for a medical hardship waiver should be granted one anyway. With this long of a delay, memories fade, documents are lost, and what looked compelling at the time might seem less so in hindsight.
So by the letter of the law, Eddie Young played his four years before the 2013 baseball season started and never should have competed for UCR. And if there was a chance to get a different result from the spirit of the law, it may have vanished over the last four years.