NCAA Upholds Okafor Suspension

Wednesday night, Missouri found out that Nigerian center Uche Okafor has been suspended indefinitely by the NCAA. It's a black day for Missouri and Okafor, but it's an even bigger black eye for the NCAA.

While Missouri may say that they aren't surprised by this decision, you know that down deep they really are.

They had started a process of attempting to resolve the Okafor eligibity question back in August, assuming that the facts of the matter would lead reasonable people to a conclusion that Okafor should be allowed to play NCAA basketball this season.

Over the past five months, Mizzou has provided boxes of documentation to the NCAA to show that his case was different than some of the other Nigerians who had been suspended earlier for being paid to play in foreign countries.

In the end, the NCAA ham-handedly ruled that Okafor was a professional athlete during some part of his time in Russia, and that, at least at this point, he is ineligible to compete for the Tigers.

Of course, Missouri will appeal the ruling immediately, after which the NCAA could reinstate Okafor.

Okafor, 21, is a 6-foot-11, 246 lbs. native of Nigeria who transferred to Mizzou this year after playing two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho. Before coming to the United States, Okafor went to Russia as a means of gaining access to North America. He acknowledged that he signed a contract with a basketball league there. However, the contract was written in Russian and according to reports, it was essentially like a work visa. If he didn't sign the document, he would be sent back to Nigeria.

Okafor played in no games while in Russia and didn't receive any money. What Okafor did receive was room and board while he was in Russia. What is reasonable here?

Just for a minute, let's ask the suits in the Ivory Tower in Indianapolis to consider the kid's situation instead of looking for any loophole to destroy his eligibilty.

If Okafor is ineligible for getting free room and board in a foreign country, and that's what the NCAA considers "professional status" to mean, this body is even more confused and corrupt than even I had imagined.

Here's the bottom line:

1. Did the kid sign a document? Yes.

2. Did he know what he was signing? No...it was written in Russian.

3. Why did he sign it then? Because he wasn't allowed to immigrate from Nigeria to the United States directly, so he had to take the roundabout route he took.

4. Was he a professional athlete? No...to be a professional athlete you have to actually play in games and you get paid for that activity. Neither of these two things happened in Russia.

5. How foolish, petty, ignorant and backward does this ruling make the NCAA look? You be the judge!


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