I guess you would say I'm a softie.
With that disclaimer, I am troubled by the situation in which freshman Auburn defensive end Stanley McClover finds himself. As I write this, McClover is still waiting to find out whether he will be eligible to play Saturday against Southern California or at all this season.
Somebody ought to be ashamed.
Here's a brief version of the story: McClover made a B in a course during his junior year at Dillard High School. The teacher had a policy that any student could retake one test in an attempt to raise his or her grade. When McClover realized he didn't make an A, he took advantage of that policy, retook the test and scored well enough to earn an A in the course.
No one is accusing anyone of shady dealings here. At the time, not even McClover knew he was going to end up playing football at Auburn. Heck, as recently as last December, he was committed to Ohio State.
Without proper documentation, the NCAA eligibility clearinghouse rejected the A, which meant McClover's combined GPA and test score weren't quite high enough to qualify. He appealed. The NCAA has contracted with the ACT Board to handle those appeals. It is now in the hands of one person, who can clear McClover if he wants. If he doesn't, it will go back to an NCAA committee.
Dillard High School was asked to provide various documents. Some of those were slow arriving because of school being out for summer vacation, but they have been in since last week. McClover, who had made quite an impact during two-a-days, had to quit practicing with the team to await his fate.
And he's still waiting.
If I was making the decision, I would have quickly cleared him to play even if a B left him a fraction short. But that's not where the real problem lies. The real problem is that nobody in position to make a decision has said anything.
Derrick Graves is an Auburn player that has dealt with academic questions since signing with the Tigers.
Somebody sits in an office with a decision to make that will have a huge impact on the life of a young man. It seems simple enough: Look at the facts and do the right thing. It's not a complex issue.
It might already be too late for McClover to play in Saturday's opener. If he's not cleared before practice Tuesday, it will certainly be too late. I often wonder if the people charged with making these decisions understand it is living, breathing human beings they are dealing with.
McClover is enrolled in school part-time. Should he be cleared, he will have to add courses in order to be fulltime. He will have missed a week's worth of the courses he adds. Does anybody not connected with Auburn care?
Of course, this is the same organization that forced Derrick Graves to return to Holt High School to take ninth-grade English because the one he had taken wasn't deemed a core course. It didn't matter that he'd been an honor student in English for three years after that.
In 2000, Lemarcus Rowell missed what would have been his freshman year because somebody in the NCAA office simply neglected to sign a paper. Red-faced, the NCAA admitted it was at fault and didn't count that year toward his eligibility.
And now it's McClover's turn. Based on what I know, I believe McClover should be eligible. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems obvious that, at the very least, an organization that has spent a lot of time trumpeting its commitment to academic excellence should be embarrassed that this situation drags on.