One of the biggest misconceptions about student athletes on the collegiate level is that they are being given something of worth (a free education) in exchange for their compliance in the classroom and their hard work on the playing field as well. But it's a bit murkier than that.
The NCAA loves to paint itself as this grand organization created for the good of all student athletes. However, every so often there comes a story that reveals the gnashing teeth of the beast that is the NCAA, college athletic programs and the seemingly arbitrary nature of the decisions made as they pertain to student athletes.
By all accounts, Daisha Simmons was a model student athlete at the University of Alabama. She averaged nearly 14 points per game during her time as a member of the underachieving Crimson Tide women’s basketball team and graduated with a degree. Unfortunately, her family is suffering financially because of the failing health of both her older brother and her mother. So what would the caring, kindhearted institution do? Whatever that is, Alabama did exactly the opposite.
When Simmons, who originally had one year of eligibility left, decided that it would be best for her and her family if she transferred to Seton Hall in New Jersey to be close to home, there’s no doubt that she thought it would be a done deal. After all, she was a great student and a very good athlete who never got in trouble or caused waves; she even applied to U of A’s MBA program but was rejected. So in the spring, she transferred to Seton Hall to pursue her MBA and finish her college hoops career.
Initially, the university granted Simmons permission to transfer. So imagine her surprise when Alabama blocked her request for a waiver to play. The apparent reason is that Simmons’ request to transfer, which came last May, came too late in the recruiting cycle for U of A to replace her with a scholarship-worthy player.
Simmons reportedly wants to play this year so that she can graduate as soon as possible to obtain a good-paying job to assist her mother with the bills, who herself is already working two jobs to care for her son. The NCAA has said that it would be OK for her to sit out the upcoming season and maintain her eligibility for the 2015-2016 season. It’s rumored that the university is saying they did not know the depth of the situation the Simmons family was facing. But Simmons, to her credit, was an ardent record keeper. She kept email correspondence in which she advised the UA athletic department of her situation months in advance.
“I’ve been hearing that Associate Athletic Director Shane Lyons and individuals at UA have been telling reporters and others in private that I did not inform them specifically on my family issues,” Simmons said in a statement to Swish Appeal. “This is 100 percent false and it is unfortunate to be in a predicament where I have to prove that I did in fact tell the committee board at UA what my family issues were during the time I was asking for my release.
Read more at the Shadow League.