Well, this is a disappointment. Guy-Marc Michel, a 7-0 junior college transfer, has been ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA. I don't have time for a long rundown, but in this post a few weeks ago, there were a number of complications: the date that Michel began college, whether the team he played on in France was a professional team, and, of course, whether he had been paid to play basketball. Frankly, IU's press release on this matter, which I will reproduce in full below the fold, raises more questions than answers.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee has denied Indiana University's appeal on behalf of Guy-Marc Michel. As a result, he is not eligible to participate on the men's basketball team.
According to the facts agreed to by the university and the NCAA, Guy enrolled in a French university in 2006, which started his five-year clock for Division I participation.
Guy played basketball for a French sports club from 2005 to the 2007-08 season. Although he competed the majority of the time on club teams not considered professional, he practiced and competed in five games with the club's top-level team in 2007-08. Since the top-level team is considered a professional team per NCAA guidelines, his participation triggered NCAA amateurism violations.
Guy's participation occurred before the new NCAA rule allowing prospective student-athletes to compete on teams with professionals while maintaining their amateur status.
The NCAA reinstatement committee and staff agreed Guy's eligibility should not be reinstated because he does not have enough time left in his five-year window to complete the withholding conditions normally associated with this type of amateurism violations.
The reinstatement staff and committee consider a number of factors when deciding each case. These include the nature and seriousness of the violation; the student-athlete's level of responsibility; any mitigating factors presented by the university; applicable NCAA guidelines; and any relevant case precedent.
During this process, the NCAA Eligibility Center and reinstatement staffs worked with our institution to bring this case to resolution. Even as we faced significant delays while dealing with French authorities, the NCAA staff was responsive and efficient in processing our initial case and the subsequent appeal.
As is permissible by NCAA rules, we will continue to honor Guy's scholarship as he remains on track to graduate from Indiana University.
Statement from Tom Crean regarding Guy-Marc Michel
"We are disappointed by this decision because everyone involved in this process agrees that Guy did not intentionally do anything that would have jeopardized his ability to play here or at any of the number of institutions that also recruited him. We will regroup, assess all our options and do whatever we can for Guy, who has demonstrated to us that he deserves to be part of the IU program."
The first bombshell comes in the first sentence. This was an appeal to the NCAA's Reinstatement Committee. In other words, at some point, Michel already had been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and this was the final appeal. I certainly didn't have that understanding before tonight.
Second, in my original post, I presumed that Michel's NCAA "clock" began ticking when he enrolled at North Idaho Community College in 2008. It appears that this was not the case. Based on that, it appears that even if it weren't for the eligibility issue, Michel would have been eligible only for this season, the 2010-11 season. It seems goofy that enrollment in a college in France would begin a player's NCAA eligibility clock, but apparently it did.
Finally, IU notes, as I did in my earlier post, that the NCAA has now changed its rules. The rule that applied to Michel made players ineligible simply for playing on a professional team, while the rule that applies to currently enrolling student-athletes rendered them ineligible only if they were paid for playing. The NCAA obviously did determine that the team for which Guy played was a "professional team."
Here's the key issue: what confuses me is the statement that because of when Guy's five year window began, there isn't sufficient time for him to serve any penalty, i.e. withholding from games, that would have been necessary because of the violation. This doesn't add up. If he really only played five games, and wasn't paid, it's hard for me to believe that the reinstatement penalty would be so severe that it would consume this entire season. If that's the case, then shame, shame, shame on the NCAA. But I'm not convinced that we're getting the whole story from IU. I think everything that IU says in the release is true. The NCAA determined that Guy's team was a professional team. The NCAA determined that his participation in five games for that team rendered him ineligible. Okay. Fine. But what we don't know is whether those were the only issues that rendered Guy ineligible. Absent (conspicuously absent, in my mind) from IU's release is any affirmative statement that Guy wasn't paid for playing for the French team. Perhaps I am reading too deeply into this. Still, I would love to see the report, or to see some credentialed media do a bit of digging on this.
In any event, too bad for Guy-Marc Michel and for the team.
Much as I loathe the NCAA, however, I'm not ready to join the mob until I know more about this case.
VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE: Zach Osterman of Inside the Hall apparently has spoken to Julie Cromer, IU's associate athletic director, and hand he presents a clear picture of what happened. I'm not sure why IU didn't put this information in its press release. In short, the NCAA sucks, and Guy-Marc Michel will be denied the opportunity to ever play NCAA basketball even though he has never been paid a dime to play basketball. Apparently, Guy's participation on a professional team would have resulted in a one-year suspension plus a per-game suspension based on the five games Guy played. Because of the five-year clock issue, the suspension could not have been served within what he has left of his eligibility. Horrible.