Braxton Beverly is a four-star point guard from Kentucky that attended Hargarve Military Academy in Virginia. As a sought-after recruit, he ended up being a big addition when Thad Matta recruited him to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes starting this season. Braxton did everything right, and now, thanks to the genius of the NCAA, he has to pay for it.
Braxton graduated high school and committed to Ohio State. He decided to get a jump on his college career, enrolling for a pair of summer classes in Columbus. This has the signs of nothing other than a hard-working kid (hey, he did go to a military academy!), who committed to a head coach and decided to get ahead of the game in his academics.
Then came the firing. Thad Matta was terminated at Ohio State and Braxton, for reasons that are between him and new head coach Chris Holtmann, decided that he did not want to attend Ohio State. His separation from the Buckeyes was amicable, and he signed to play his career for Kevin Keatts at North Carolina State. He had started a pair of summer courses but did not finish them, thus gaining nothing other than a few hours in the classroom from Ohio State.
The NCAA has now declared that Braxton cannot play at NC State this season, but must sit out the entire year as a transfer (he will have all four years of eligibility left at least). The reason for this decision was that, due to his enrollment in two summer course, Braxton is now a transfer student. Regardless of whether you feel that transfers should even have to sit out a year, to apply this rule in Braxton’s case, where he did absolutely nothing wrong, is utterly ridiculous. He wanted to play for Thad Matta – it was not his fault Ohio State fired him. He wanted to get ahead in his coursework — he did the right thing and now has to sit out a year. The worst part is that it is our understanding he isn’t even getting credits for having completed those courses — all he did was enroll in them for a few weeks.
The last time I checked, the NCAA Core values were as follows:
“The Association – through its member institutions, conferences and national office staff – shares a belief in and commitment to:
- The collegiate model of athletics in which students participate as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.
- The highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship.
- The pursuit of excellence in both academics and athletics.
- The supporting role that intercollegiate athletics plays in the higher education mission and in enhancing the sense of community and strengthening the identity of member institutions.
- An inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds.
- Respect for institutional autonomy and philosophical differences.
- Presidential leadership of intercollegiate athletics at the campus, conference and national levels.”
Braxton Beverly is a student-athlete. The word “student” comes first in that term. He tried to get ahead of the game and take a few summer courses, using the “supporting role that intercollegiate athletics play in the higher education mission” the way it was intended. Instead, he is now being unfairly penalized. He was acting in “pursuit of excellence in both academics and athletics”. For this, he has to sit and watch his teammates from the sideline this year.
The message being sent by the NCAA in denying Braxton’s application for a waiver and subsequent appeal of that waiver is clear. Don’t enroll in summer courses. Don’t try to get ahead. Don’t put academics first. Combine this with the recent rulings from the North Carolina investigation and it becomes “we would rather you take fake courses that you do not even need to attend than actually put in the work.” Why do we even bother sending these kids to classes at all? Let’s just let them play basketball for four years and, if they don’t become pros, there are plenty of minimum wage jobs available. Maybe I am naive to believe that the term student-athlete means something, but if it does, the least the NCAA could do is reward those that put student first instead of punish them.