Opinion: Mayimba ineligible again, because the NCAA is awful

Posted In Blog - By Alan Kelly On Saturday, August 29th, 2015 With 0 Comments

The news Mason fans have waiting all summer to hear has apparently finally come down, just in time for the start of classes on Monday: redshirt freshman Therence Mayimba has been found ineligible to play NCAA basketball, per his Instagram account:

They did it, they took advantage of me probably because they saw me with no parents in the U.S. Who could fight for me and they tried to make it look like they made an example out of a school. Crap! They took one thing I worked so hard for and left my family for. They took my basketball away from me. I don’t know what to think anymore, death is what it looks like for me. After all this I can’t figure it out, I’m tired. F** them and everyone who participated in that decision of ineligibility.

Well said, Therence. It’s hard to argue that opinion when we’re talking about an organization that steals the likenesses of its players and profits millions from them in the name of amateurism, but once forbade coaches from providing cream cheese with their bagels for an after practice snack.

The burden of proof is on the NCAA that this was not just another case of throwing the book at someone who can’t defend themselves. After leaving his native Gabon, Mayimba attended high school for three years in the United States, starting at Montrose Christian, before graduating from St. James School, and he has been enrolled at Mason for all of last school year and this past summer. In the face of 4 years of US education at respected institutions, the NCAA had better have a more recent complaint than any issues with his ninth-grade equivalent studies back home in Gabon five years ago.

The saddest part is, this isn’t even an unfamiliar story for college sports fans. I guess the NCAA is so mad at North Carolina for their academic cheating scandal, they decided to make an example of George Mason and a foreign-born player trying to make a better life for his family instead. Why? Because they can. Because damaging the Patriots program will barely scratch the NCAA’s coffers, unlike enforcing the rules at a blue blood.

Just yesterday, Mayimba was interviewed by FIBA.com about his success playing for his native Gabon in the FIBA Afrobasket tournament, and his hopes for the upcoming season at George Mason. Mayimba was one of the stars that led Gabon to a surprising eighth-place finish, averaging 14.2 points. Mason head coach Dave Paulsen gave Mayimba permission to stay in Africa a few more days for the conclusion of the tournament, so long as he returned before classes started, and Mayimba was looking forward to finally getting his collegiate career off the ground:

“I am definitely looking forward for this season to start,” he said with a wide smile.

“I am going to do what I love to do, which is play defense, encourage my teammates, set screens over there, and if I have to, encourage somebody to come up with their performances I will do that.

“It was hard to look at your team, and you can’t really do anything to help. But that time is past now, and I am looking forward to join the team.

This seems like an especially cruel and sudden end to a young man’s dreams, and hopefully there is still more that Mayimba and/or the George Mason athletic department can do on his behalf.

About - Alan Kelly is a 2010 and 2013 graduate of George Mason University and a former member of the Patriot Platoon. He had the memorable experience of being in the middle of the college decision process as George Mason's Final Four run unfolded. He currently resides in Northern Virginia.

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