By Heather Nelson
(Published on November 23, 2015)
The University of Kansas men’s basketball team anxiously waits for one of its teammates to finally be able to join the team on the court.
Freshman top-recruit from Mali, Cheick Diallo, remains on the bench — in limbo — due to NCAA ineligibility. The NCAA has held Diallo in this state for the past six months. Kansas coach Bill Self and the university’s athletics department can no longer tolerate it.
I can also no longer tolerate it.
Self spoke out Saturday in a conference call with ESPN and CBS Sports against the NCAA’s treatment of the Diallo case. He said that information on the case had been withheld from KU prior to this month. Self also said it seems the NCAA isn’t making much of an effort to further the case.
Diallo spent almost three years at Our Savior New American High School, a private school in Centereach, N.Y. (He left Mali in 2012 hoping to pursue basketball.) The problem is that the NCAA placed Our Savior New American High School under review in 2012, which could potentially nullify Diallo’s main coursework.
This is frustrating because a young kid from Mali left his home and family to follow the American dream. Diallo was not aware that Our Savior was under NCAA investigation.
I looked over the NCAA freshman eligibility guidelines because Diallo is not the only recruit dealing with this problem. The University of Central Florida’s freshman recruit, originally from Senegal, Tacko Fall, faced ineligibility this season, too. But the NCAA requirements are no different from what a college requires students to complete before being admitted to a school. In Diallo’s case, the University of Kansas obviously admitted him. Diallo told ESPN, recently, that he received an A and a B in the two summer courses he took at Kansas; he’s in 15 credit hours this fall. Honestly, he’s already doing better in his first semester in college than I did.
Tell me why I shouldn’t be mad that Diallo is still on the bench.
If Self speaking out wasn’t enough, the University of Kansas penned a six page letter to the NCAA, which addresses its concerns in the Diallo case. The letter, dated Nov. 10, is signed by Kansas Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger. The letter reprimands the NCAA investigation of the Cheick Diallo case — most of it relates back to the fact that the institution hasn’t promptly completed tasks or worked with the university to come to a conclusion.
In the second paragraph of the letter, Zenger writes that the university has spent nearly “six figures” on the investigation, but the university would “wholeheartedly support such exorbitant expenditures because we have uncovered serious and legitimate misrepresentations attributed to the NCAA process.” Later in the letter, Zenger refers to the numerous times Kansas representatives visited Our Savior New American High School. NCAA officials have not.
While the letter pins all of the blame on the NCAA, I’ve got to be skeptical of how much the university exaggerated to make their point. Regardless, a decision needs to be made. Zenger is correct about the lack of partnership between the institutions. Instead of fighting each other on the issue, the institutions need to work together to fix it. Diallo’s eligibility needs to be decided immediately. The NCAA has no reason to keep the investigation going.
Even without Diallo, I’m confident in the basketball team that Self is able to put on the floor, however, that’s not the point. Let the kid play. Give Diallo the opportunity to pursue the American dream. If he wants to be a one-and-done, let him.
NCAA, stop giving people a reason to hate you, and let the kid play.
*Editor’s note: Cheick Diallo was cleared for play in late November. His debut was the December 1 game at home against Loyola Maryland.