NCAA (Rightly) Shows Little Mercy to Tyler Laser

Do you know who Tyler Laser is? I doubt it and you shouldn’t. I didn’t until a few minutes ago when I came across this article saying that the NCAA had denied Laser’s appeal for an additional season.

Except, Laser’s circumstance is a bit different. The NCAA states that a player can earn an additional year of eligibility if he plays in less than 30 percent of his team’s games (or equal to).

Laser played in 10 games this past season before he was injured and needed season ending surgery. His school, Eastern Illinois, played 29 games on the year. Thus, Laser played in 34.4% of his team’s games.

And that’s all it took. After waiting a few months to hear the answer to his appeal, Laser found out yesterday that his college career had come to an end.

When I first read that article, I was once again annoyed at the NCAA. It seems every week I find a new article that shows how the NCAA is looking out for its bottom line and not the kids that make them that money. But after further reflection, I don’t disagree with them here.

At some point, there has to be a line. The NCAA decided that line was 30 percent, a pretty reasonable number. You can’t just grant slight exceptions, because then that line becomes meaningless. All of a sudden, it’s 35 percent, then 40 and so on and so on. Eventually, a player will miss five games and be eligible for an extra season.

In the article, Diamond Leung contends that “Laser had played one game over the participation limit [30 percent of the season] that would have allowed him to gain back the additional year.” I’m a bit confused on this. If Laser had played in just nine of his team’s 29 games as Leung suggests, that would still be 31 percent and above the NCAA’s threshold.

If somehow Leung meant that if Eastern Illinois had played an additional game than Laser would get an added season, he’d still be wrong. In that case, Laser would have played in one-third of his team’s games.

Either Laser had to play two fewer games (8/29=.275) or Eastern Illinois would have had to play five more games (10/34=.294). That’s more than just a single game as Leung suggests. It’s heartbreaking for Laser, but the NCAA had to draw a line.


2 thoughts on “NCAA (Rightly) Shows Little Mercy to Tyler Laser

  1. Too bad you did investigate and get the the whole story before you went public…Tyler was misdiagnosed for 5 games with a pulled muscle and treated with ice bathes and stretching…his conditioned worsened…

    Tyler had recommended an MRI but was dismissed by the EIU trainer as unnecessary…finally an MRI was scheduled between the 9th and 10th game…coaches didn’t wait for the MRI and see what the results were…

    The real tradgedy he is with the choices of the coaching staff and the trainer…this young man did everything he was told…went to classes and is graduating on time…sacrificed being with friends, girlfriends, eating junk food to be a college basketball player…When a father and mother sends their kids to school they expect them to be taken care of and protected…maybe loved as a son!?

    Tyler Laser went to the gym in highschool every day (Saturday and Sunday) and MADE 600 shots…then after practice and supper he went back to school and made another 600 shots…(he wore out our shooting machinge) this boy was a poster child for dedication and drive towards being the best that he could be…he is the most respected athlete in our area…he gives back to the kids and is polite to every adult he comes into contact with…

    You would admire and like this young man..You should take time to meet him…

    This decision wasn’t was was good for an athlete…but a smack to the choices of the coaching and training staff at EIU..

    Bart Laser
    Tyler’s HS Coach and Father

  2. Mr. Laser,

    Thank you for your comment. I didn’t know those details behind the story and I apologize for that, but it sounds like your gripes are with the coaching staff and trainers at EIU as much as they are with the NCAA.

    As much as everything you said about your son is very impressive and worthy of admiration, I don’t think it should factor into the NCAA’s decisions regarding medical red-shirts. Determination, grit and hard work are great traits in a player and in a person and make him worthy of being a role model to all high school basketball players but it doesn’t

    However, the misdiagnosis by the medical staff and improper handling of Tyler’s injury is a different story. If the school acknowledged to the NCAA that it made a mistake and that Tyler would have played fewer games (and been eligible for another season) had the trainers diagnosed the injury correctly, then Tyler should have been granted his extra year of eligibility.

    However, that is a very slippery slope. There are coaches out there who would lie to the NCAA and say a player was misdiagnosed with an injury even if they were diagnosed correctly so that they could get an extra year out of a player. Say a player plays 15 games and picks up a season ending injury. His coach wants him for another season and the player wants to play another season so the two get together with the medical staff and say that he played injured for eight games so he should receive a medical red-shirt. That’s cheating and it opens a loophole for slimy coaches to work with.

    Nevertheless, I don’t see such a scenario unfolding very often, if ever, and cases like your son are also rare. If EIU admitted that they were at fault, then I would be extremely angry at the NCAA. Trainers, like all of us, are human and are going to make mistakes. It certainly isn’t fair to Tyler that it happened to him but if the trainer admits such a mistake, the NCAA has a duty to correct it as well as they can. In this case, it means giving Tyler another year of eligibility. If the NCAA still refuses to grant him another year, then the NCAA is despicable.

    If the trainer does not admit that, he is a coward and the NCAA has no choice but to follow the rules it outlined and deny Tyler’s appeal.

    Either way, it’s a mistake that could have and should have been fixed and it’s truly unfair that Tyler won’t be in a Panther’s uniform next season.

    Thanks again for your comment,

    Danny Vinik

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