University of Alabama athletics director released a statement on Tuesday night announcing that the school would now support a waiver that would allow former Crimson Tide women’s player Daisha Simmons to be eligible immediately at Seton Hall.
This is a critical step in getting Simmons on the court this season. Since she completed her undergraduate degree at Alabama but had already transferred once in her collegiate career, she was eligible to receive the graduate transfer waiver from the NCAA. But one of the requirements for that waiver to be given is that the athlete’s former school — in this case Alabama — had to be in support of it.
Until Tuesday, Alabama was not.
Since the NCAA had already granted Simmons a sixth season of eligibility in 2015-2016, it should be a mere formality for the NCAA to approve the waiver now that Simmons has Alabama’s support.
Simmons decided in late-May that she wanted to leave the Alabama program and enroll at Seton Hall. There were two factors in her decision: she was not accepted into Alabama’s MBA program, and her mother’s health had deteriorated to the point that it was difficult for her to work two jobs while helping her 32-year old brother through dialysis; he’s in renal failure and waiting for a kidney transplant.
As recently as Monday, Alabama had said that they considered the matter to be closed, and they even made it explicitly clear in the statement released by Battle that they did not necessarily agree with Simmons leaving.
But at some point, punishing a former student-athlete is not worth the negative publicity, and the decision-makers in Tuscaloosa finally realized that they were on the losing end of this battle.
Whatever the case may be, Simmons should eventually get cleared to play this season, and in the end, that’s all that really matters.
The full statement from Alabama can be read below:
This afternoon, the University of Alabama contacted the NCAA to inform them that the university supports Daisha Simmons’ request for a waiver from the NCAA allowing her to be eligible to play basketball at Seton Hall in 2014-15. This gives the NCAA the opportunity to revisit the situation, if they so desire, and to consider information that could be provided by Miss Simmons, including documentation that could substantiate significant medical issues in her family, that could affect her ability to be granted a waiver to be eligible for competition immediately.
Much of the university’s original decision not to endorse a waiver was based on the fact that Miss Simmons declined to provide any information supporting her reasoning for seeking a waiver. This was despite requests to obtain documentation verifying hardship to support a waiver request. Miss Simmons was told repeatedly of the requirements needed to obtain the waiver, as well as how such requirements were needed to justify the institution’s endorsement of such a waiver. She refused to provide this, despite several opportunities and requests to do so.
It bears noting that Miss Simmons did not meet any NCAA legislated transfer exceptions to be eligible for competition immediately since she had previously transferred from Rutgers University and the University of Alabama was renewing her athletics financial aid for the 2014-15 academic year, thus requiring her to seek a waiver of the eligibility regulations. The university’s decision not to support the waiver was a small part of the facts the NCAA reviewed but, ultimately, the NCAA looks at the entire narrative supplied by the student and the applicant institution in determining whether or not to grant a waiver.
Inaccurate reports in the media have cited the university’s decision not to support a waiver as the lone determinant in Miss Simmons’ ability to gain a waiver allowing her to play this season. The NCAA’s ruling in this case gave Miss Simmons the opportunity to take care of any family concerns, focus on academics, and play next season. The university’s ability to assist Miss Simmons in this case was greatly hindered by inconsistencies regarding her reasons for wanting to leave the university.
As she had desired, Miss Simmons has enrolled in a Master’s of Business Administration program specializing in sport management at Seton Hall. Her enrollment at Seton Hall, on scholarship, fulfilled her desire to attend college and play basketball near her home.
There are many levels of due process involved in proceedings of this nature. The university of Alabama did not prevent Miss Simmons from transferring. Per her request, the University of Alabama granted schools near her home in New Jersey permission to contact Miss Simmons about the possibility of attending. Reports stating that Alabama would not release her are inaccurate.
The University of Alabama emphatically supports head coach Kristy Curry and her staff. Throughout this process they have maintained a high level of integrity and ethical behavior.