And yes, there is already a protest hashtag. Of course there is.
You remember Michigan State forward Delvon Roe, the once-brilliant but injury-plagued Spartans forward who battled through numerous injuries for coach Tom Izzo in the past three seasons. This summer, after another injury and lingering degenerative knee pain, Roe decided his basketball days were just about over. He had discovered a new muse -- acting -- starring in school productions and working in hopes of a professional career.
This decision was announced in one of the saddest press releases of all time. Izzo's emotions seeped off the page. But Roe's story was also redemptive: Here was a kid for whom basketball had once been everything, who lost that dream, but discovered another in the process. There's something very neat about that.
This would have been Roe's senior season at Michigan State. Roe has attended home games and practices here and there, but Izzo had something very special in mind for Michigan State's Senior Night -- one final farewell, one thank you for Roe's three years of oft-selfless service. One last time, Izzo wanted Roe to lace up the kicks and suit up with the team, to maybe even play a few last minutes as a Michigan State Spartan.
Cool idea, right? Just one problem: The NCAA won't allow it.
So reports our friend and all-time blog brother from another mother, MLive.com's Diamond Leung:
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Friday he wanted retired forward Delvon Roe to play against Ohio State in a nostalgic return to the court on Senior Day, but the school has determined that NCAA eligibility rules will not allow for Roe to dress for the game. [...] Roe has begun a professional acting career that appears to restrict him from playing because of amateurism rules, Izzo indicated. Ineligible players also cannot suit up for games.
"I think he deserved it," Izzo said of the idea that Roe would play March 4. "I’m sure I would have done it because I appreciate the kid, but we can’t do it."
The school still is expected to honor Roe on Senior Day, and Izzo said it would contact the NCAA next week to see what would be permissible.
Naturally, this has led to all manner of outcry from Michigan State fans, who started a hashtag -- #LetDelvonPlay -- and are currently bombarding the Twitters with all manner of NCAA-directed appeals even as we speak. Unfortunately, it would appear that the NCAA rule here is pretty cut and dry. Roe's professional acting career inherently ended his amateur athletic status, and that's pretty much that. If it didn't, players could act in commercials and receive money for their work while still in school, and god forbid the NCAA allow something so sinister as that. (We've all seen how athlete endorsements have ruined the Olympics. Does anyone even watch those things anymore? Oh. Right.)
Then again, the NCAA has allowed certain exceptions to eligibility and recruiting rules in the past. Circumstances are usually extreme, and Roe's situation might not quite meet that threshold. But it is, at the end of the day, merely a one-time gesture. The #LetDelvonPlay rabble might just have a point.