Why did Prime Prep products Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepard get ruled non-qualifiers?

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On Thursday afternoon, news broke that Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepard were ruled non-qualifiers by the NCAA, likely due to the fact that they attended Prime Prep, Deion Sanders’ charter school in Dallas, last season.

There were two facts that made this case interesting: for starters, the No. 3 player in the Class of 2014, Emmanuel Mudiay, and a top ten recruit in the Class of 2015, Elijah Thomas, both attend Prime Prep, which could call into question whether or not they will be able to get eligible to play in college.

More intriguing, however, is the fact that Prime Prep announced that the school had taken the “preliminary steps” to NCAA certification and that their prospects would be eligible for “individual review” by the NCAA Eligibility Center. But did they ever complete the certification process? Based on the quotes from Jeff Goodman’s sources in this story, it doesn’t look like it.

“The kids were misled by the school,” one source told “Everyone told them there wouldn’t be any issues.”

John Infante of the Bylaw Blog did some digging and tried to explain exactly what happened in this case. The first thing to note is that this disclaimer appears at the top of the list of approved core courses on Prime Prep’s page on the Eligibility Center’s website:

“This program is under an extended evaluation period to determine if it meets the academic requirements for NCAA cleared status. During this evaluation period, the courses listed below may be subject to further review on a case-by-case basis, which will require additional academic documentation.”

Infante explains:

That means when prospective student-athletes from Prime Prep submits their transcripts to the Eligibility Center, they likely also have to submit additional information, such as grade books, course stop-start dates and assignment dates, detailed course outlines, even copies of assignments, quizzes, and exams completed by the student.

What the NCAA is trying to determine is that the courses it has approved are being taught in an academically sound manner. When a school submits a new course or especially when a new school establishes its list for the first time, all the NCAA has is how the school plans to teach the course. The PSA Review process is then used to determine if the course is actually being taught according to the approved plan.

One of the issues may be with how Prime Prep educates. They use a program called VSchoolz, a digital learning system described in this report from last November as “mostly used by only a handful of schools nationwide as a credit recovery or supplemental education resource”.

This is how Mudiay described his classes on Thursday when asked him about it: “It’s on a laptop. It’s called VSchoolz. It teaches you everything in there, and they’ve got a teacher in there in case you need any assistance.”

So you’re getting classes over the internet?

“Yeah, but next year I think they’re going to change it.”

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?