Luke Cothron, the latest casualty of the NCAA


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.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.