Is NCAA losing perspective?
SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated July 22, 2010 12:00 AM
Is there more than meets the eye in the way that the NCAA Management Committee swooped down on two University of Perpetual Help senior varsity basketball players and declared them ineligible this season?
Turning a blind eye to what appear to be logical arguments by Perpetual Help internal director for athletics Moises Lozada, the ManCom ruled that 6-3 1/2 Marlon Gomez lacks residency to play this schoolyear and 6-4 Paul Nuilan is guilty of misrepresentation, opening the door for a permanent ban.
The ManCom’s decision has wreaked havoc on Perpetual’s basketball program. Without two frontline starters, the Altas has gotten off to a woeful 0-4 start. Last July 16, Perpetual lost a 78-62 decision to Jose Rizal University for its fourth straight setback. Yesterday, the Altas faced Arellano in a bid to end the winless streak.
More than the blow on Perpetual’s title hopes, the decision has cast serious doubts on the integrity of Gomez and Nuilan, jeopardizing their dreams of someday making basketball a career. You wonder if the ManCom is even aware of the damage it has done to the lives of these two young men.
The ManCom decision was handed down two days before the start of the NCAA season so you can imagine how it affected the morale of coach Boris Aldeguer and the Altas.
In the preseason, Perpetual looked like a legitimate championship contender after victimizing Letran, National University, La Salle and Emilio Aguinaldo, among others. In the Father Martin Cup, Perpetual advanced to the semifinals and bowed to powerhouse Ateneo on a desperation triple by Kirk Long at the buzzer. That’s how formidable Aldeguer transformed his rag-tag squad with Gomez and Nuilan at the forefront.
Perhaps, Perpetual’s strong preseason showing alarmed some segments of the NCAA community and brought about a witch-hunt that “uncovered” certain “illusory” findings leading to a hatchet job.
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Gomez was originally a student from Philippine Christian University (PCU). When PCU disbanded its basketball team, Gomez and the other varsity players tried to hook up with other schools. Gomez was recruited by then Jose Rizal coach Ariel Vanguardia and signed a conditional waiver that he would be considered an enrolee only upon submission of his transfer papers from PCU.
After a few Jose Rizal practices in the summer of 2009, Gomez advised Vanguardia that he would instead enrol at Perpetual. Vanguardia later confirmed that Gomez was never enrolled at Jose Rizal and never attended classes.
Meanwhile, Gomez joined some PCU teammates at Perpetual and was enrolled in July last year. A certified Perpetual transcript of records shows that he attended classes in the College of International Hospitality Management in the first and second semesters of 2009-10.
The ManCom initially voted to allow Gomez eligibility but reversed the decision when Jose Rizal officials submitted documents showing Gomez attended classes and even got a passing grade in elementary accounting, contrary to Vanguardia’s testimony. On the basis of the Jose Rizal papers, the ManCom decided to order another year of residency for Gomez at Perpetual before he is declared eligible.
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In Nuilan’s case, the ManCom imputed deceit. He was enrolled at FEU, playing for Team B until 2007-08. Nuilan moved to Letran in 2008-09 but never submitted his transfer papers which FEU didn’t release until May 2009. By the time Nuilan got his papers from FEU, he was long gone from Letran. It had been five months since he last attended classes at Letran when FEU released his papers. As Nuilan was being recruited by Perpetual, he submitted his FEU papers to formalize his transfer.
Nuilan has been accused of misrepresentation since he, in fact, had attended classes at Letran after FEU and before moving to Perpetual. But it is also a fact that because he didn’t get his FEU papers until May 2009, he was never officially recognized as having been enrolled at Letran despite attending classes – an anomaly that appears to be an institutional error or a deliberate oversight.
Gomez and Nuilan may have assumed certain things in processing their enrolment papers at Perpetual. Perhaps, in their eagerness to play in the NCAA, they short-cutted what is standard procedure. But I don’t think there was malicious intent to misrepresent or deceive anyone. It is on record, after all, that Gomez practiced with Jose Rizal and Nuilan attended classes at Letran.
To even consider banning Nuilan for life smacks of a heartless attitude towards young men aspiring to make something out of their lives through a sports career. Shouldn’t these young men be given the benefit of the doubt?
It would be unfair to accuse the ManCom of discriminating against Perpetual in an attempt to derail the Altas’ basketball program. But from all indications, it seems that there is a concerted effort to disenfranchise Gomez and Nuilan of their right to represent their school as basketball players in the NCAA.
Gomez and Nuilan aren’t being accused of game-fixing. They’re not being accused of selling games. They may have been misguided or ill-advised and for that, they should be redirected, not chastised. Let it not be said that the NCAA ManCom has lost its perspective of giving young men the rightful opportunity to represent their schools to the best of their athletic ability with honor and pride.