Last November, Lavar Batts, a top 100 point guard from North Carolina, signed his Letter of Intent with VCU and head coach Will Wade. That same some, Thomas Allen, a top 100 shooting guard, signed his Letter of Intent with N.C. State and Mark Gottfried.
Batts is now on campus at N.C. State prepping for his freshman season after asking for, and receiving, a release from VCU in the spring, just days after Will Wade accepted the head coaching position at LSU. He took Allen’s spot on the roster after he asked for, and received, a release from the Wolfpack. Allen is now a freshman at Nebraska.
Both players are eligible to play this season.
Braxton Beverly, however, may not be.
Beverly is not a top 100 prospect, but he is a three-star point guard that signed his LOI with Ohio State the same month that Batts and Allen signed their LOIs. After Thad Matta was fired, he asked for, and received, a release from the Buckeyes and, a month later, signed with the Wolfpack; his head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, A.W. Hamilton, was hired as an assistant coach by new N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts, who was himself the head coach at Hargrave until 2011.
But Beverly is going to have to receive a waiver from the NCAA if he wants to play this season.
Unlike Gottfried and Wade, the coaching change at Ohio State happened in early June, nearly a month after Ohio State’s summer sessions began on May 10th. Beverly, who received his release on June 30th, attended summer classes in Columbus on the assumption that the coaching staff that had recruited him to Ohio State would be coaching him at Ohio State. Since he attended those classes, he is no longer a prospect asking out of an LOI. In the NCAA’s eyes, he’s a freshman looking to transfer.
The rule, by the book, is that Beverly will have to do a year in residence before he is eligible to play for the Wolfpack, meaning he redshirts the 2017-18 season.
And that’s wrong.
The NCAA still has plenty of time to get this right. It is August 1st, after all, and as a transfer, Beverly is allowed to do everything that the rest of his teammates do — go to workouts, travel with the team to Italy, etc. — until actual games start being played. That’s three months away, which is plenty of time to apply for a waiver from the NCAA.
And if the NCAA is smart, they give Beverly one.
Look, this situation is unique. Coaches are not often fired in June, not when they are the greatest head coach in the history of a program like Ohio State and certainly not when they are just three months removed from getting a vote of confidence from their Athletic Director. No one expected this, and it would be unfair to punish Beverly for doing what many recruits do when the coach that recruited them moves on.
(And while we’re here, yes, recruits commit to coaches, not schools. The NCAA failing to recognize this is dumb and stubborn and, frankly, an embarrassment.)
What’s more, however, is that keeping Beverly from being eligible in 2017-18 decentivizes attending summer school for incoming freshmen. Where is the motivation to get a jump-start on your education if you know that it puts you at risk of being locked into the school if the coach you committed to is fired or takes a new job?
Ohio State has already granted Beverly a release. They’re fine with him playing.
Hopefully, the NCAA will cut him some slack as well.