I thought the NCAA member institutions were in the business of helping student-athletes. I was under the impression that institutions of higher learning were supposed to set an example for students.
So I wondered how the NCAA and the University of Alabama were helping guard Daisha Simmons, who transferred to Seton Hall, by refusing to allow her to play there immediately.
On Tuesday, Alabama announced that it was changing its tune and supporting Daisha Simmons' request for a waiver, which would allow her immediate eligibility at Seton Hall.
It took a long time to get this right, and hopefully schools will learn from this situation.
How did this all happen?
Simmons was a double-figure scorer at Alabama who had completed her degree and wanted to move closer to her home in New Jersey for her final season of eligibility. Student-athletes usually have five years of school to play four seasons. Because she began her career at Rutgers before transferring to Alabama, Simmons was under a different set of rules -- she needed a waiver to be able to play at Seton Hall while pursuing a graduate degree. (Normally, if you graduate with a year of eligibility remaining and transfer, you are eligible to play right away if you are pursuing a masters that wasn't available at your previous school
Alabama originally released Simmons, but then it did not support the waiver to allow her to play right away. The NCAA did not want to go against an institution and agreed with Alabama, though it did grant her a sixth year of eligibility for the 2015-16 campaign.
In reality, the NCAA's hands were tied. The only way it could grant her the right to play would be if Alabama authorized permission for a waiver to be granted. I agreed with what my buddy Jay Bilas said about this situation: The NCAA's silence on the matter was amazing.
One reason Simmons wanted to be back in New Jersey was family related. Her brother has kidney disease and is on dialysis, and the young lady should have been allowed to complete her eligibility. It made sense to get the credit requirements for her MBA out of the way to have another option to help the family out financially.
Her mother works two jobs in an effort to support the family. What Simmons wanted to do is noble, and she should have been rewarded for her actions.
I still do not understand what Alabama gained by being so small and petty in this scenario. This was about common sense. Simmons was not going back to Tuscaloosa, so it should have been smart and asked the NCAA to grant her eligibility immediately, instead of dragging its feet. Why hurt the young lady?
Alabama AD Bill Battle said Simmons' request to transfer came in May, and that was too late to replace her. Then the Tide signed a recruit that month. Battle wrote to the NCAA contesting the waiver, which would have allowed Simmons to play immediately. He finally gave in on Tuesday.
It blows my mind that an administrator and a coach, representing a first-class university, would have gone to such extremes to deny a young lady who represented the Crimson Tide in a positive way as a student-athlete.
Why in the world would Battle and coach Kristy Curry want to bring so much negative publicity to this proud institution? Then Alabama president Judy Bonner told Simmons' attorney that she wouldn't even discuss the situation with him, saying the university "considers this matter closed."
Alabama should be ashamed of this whole mess created when Curry and Battle took a hard line on the Simmons transfer request.
It took a lot of scrutiny from the media and the threat of legal action for Alabama to give in and do the right thing. It should have taken the high road and asked the NCAA to grant Simmons a waiver to play this season right from the start.
Alabama should never have put itself or Simmons in this dilemma. She satisfied her academic requirements and had a hardship situation with her family. Common sense finally prevailed!