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Luke Cothron, the latest casualty of the NCAA

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Luke Cothron is the latest example of everything that is wrong with the NCAA.

A four-star recruit in the Class of 2010, Cothron is currently at his fifth college, six if you include NC State, who he originally committed to in high school.

He originally signed with Auburn, but was ruled a non-qualifier. Cothron had a short stint at UMass and an even shorter stint at New Orleans before heading to the College of Southern Idaho for a year and Northwest Florida for this season.

The problem, however, is the time that he spent at UNO. You see, head coach Joe Pasternack thought he could pull a fast one the NCAA. Since the Privateers were moving to Division III after the season, his players were going to be allowed to transfer without penalty. So he convinced Cothron to enroll for the second semester as an audition for bigger programs looking to land a talented power forward.

So Cothron enrolled on a Monday night, played in a game that Tuesday – all of six minutes – and then … he was told the plan wasn’t going to work. As he told Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com, the school figured out that since Cothron was actually enrolled at UMass, he would have to sit out a year before getting eligible at UNO.

Because, you know, those are the standard NCAA rules that everyone knows and hates.

UNO didn’t get a waiver from the NCAA. They didn’t even apply for one. He spent a grand total of two days – and six minutes played — as a member of the team.

And now that’s coming back to bite Cothron, because those six minutes technically count as his freshman season, which means that the one year he spent at CSI is his sophomore season. So now he is forced to sit out at Northwest Florida, because it’s a junior college and athletes aren’t allowed to play at junior colleges after their sophomore season.

All Cothron needs is someone from New Orleans to pick up the phone, call the NCAA, and tell them that they made a mistake. It wasn’t Cothron’s fault. He trusted a coach and the coach had bad information.

But Pasternack has since moved on, and the compliance officer that cleared the decision is gone, as well. Athletic Director Derek Morel apparently can’t be bothered to help Cothron out, either, as Parrish said it has been at least three months since Morel was informed of the problem.

So Cothron sits in basketball purgatory, able to play but ineligible to suit up.

And, frankly, that is a steaming pile of horse manure.

It’s also a perfect example for why so many people despise the NCAA.

Look, Cothron isn’t perfect. In fact, he’s a pretty long way from being what you would call a ‘model’ student. He didn’t qualify academically and he’s been to five schools in less than three years. But the point of college athletics, at its core, is to help kids from disadvantaged situations use physical gifts to better their lives, whether that means getting them straight to the NBA or simply allowing them a chance to get an education.

And because of a stupid thought process from people that Cothron is supposed to be able to trust, Cothron may not have the chance to prove himself deserving of a scholarship.

(Let’s not forgot Mr. Derek Morel here, who isn’t making the effort to pick up the phone and help Cothron out. That ticks me off. If it ticks you off as well, his phone number is 504-280-6102. Let’s see if he picks up the phone when you call.)

It’s hard to believe given the complexity of the NCAA’s rulebook, but there are still kids that manage to slip through the cracks, which is why they need a common sense rule, a clause that simply says, ‘Hey, we messed this one up, you’re good to go.’

No one’s perfect, but it’s incredibly unfair to punish a kid for someone else’s mistakes.

Make this right.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.