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.