NCAA grants waiver for teams playing more than four non-Division I opponents

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There was a report out yesterday that the NCAA would be deciding soon on whether or not to waive an obscure rule that would force teams in smaller leagues to forfeit games.

In summation: Division I teams cannot play more than four non-Division I teams in a season. Transitional Division I members (Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word, Grand Canyon and UMass-Lowell) count as non-Division I teams despite playing in Division I conference this season. This would have forced Oral Roberts, Stephen F. Austin, Vermont, Maine and others to forfeit league games without receiving a waiver.

Today, the ruling became official.

All NCAA teams would be receiving the waiver.

“Today, the NCAA’s Subcommittee for Legislative Relief formally approved a waiver that we submitted on the membership’s behalf absolving all Division I basketball programs, including Maine’s and Vermont’s men’s teams, from penalty for having more than four non-Division I opponents on their schedules,” America East commissioner America East commissioner Amy Huchthausen said in a statement. “We very much appreciate the NCAA staff’s efforts to expedite a review of this case and are extremely pleased with the decision, which we believe is fair and appropriate given the circumstances.”

The timing was, well, perfect?

A bit too late maybe be a better way to put it. Vermont has already played UMass-Lowell once this season, which was their fifth-game against a non-Division I opponent.

Oral Roberts, who already announced that they would be forced to forfeit Southland games against Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian, has ACU on their schedule on Thursday. Per a source, they traveled down to Abilene, TX, on Wednesday night with no idea whether or not they would actually be able to play the game.

Why is Oral Roberts forfeiting two games in Southland play?

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Oral Roberts caught a bad break in what will end up being their second and last season in the Southland Conference.

Due to a weird scheduling rule, the Golden Eagles will have to forfeit league games against Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word.

Here’s what happened: According to NCAA Bylaw, “An institution may schedule and play not more than four basketball games, including any contest (e.g., scrimmage, exhibition), in an academic year against institutions that are not members of Division I.” Oral Roberts has played regular season games against Cameron College and Dallas Baptist and exhibitions against Northwood and Rogers State. None of those four teams are Division I programs. That’s ORU’s maximum allotment.

But the issue is that Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian are transitional Division I programs, meaning they are technically members of Division I yet and count against that maximum of four games. As first-year members of the Southland, they only play against other league foes once, and the rest of the team’s in the league were supposed to adjust their schedule accordingly.

Oral Roberts didn’t.

“When the 2013-14 men’s basketball schedule was created, we thought that exhibition games against non-Division I opponents were exempt from the four-game limit,” the school said in a statement. “Our men’s basketball program put together its schedule for 2013-14. The schedule went through the standard athletic department approval process that includes several administrators, and unfortunately, the discrepancy was not discovered.”

Oral Roberts will be leaving the Southland to head back to the Summit League after the season.