In a fairly shocking turn of events, the NCAA has reinstated Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost.
If you remember, Bost declared for the NBA Draft, withdrawing after the deadline. He was also unaware of a rule change that does not allow players to return to college if they go undrafted and don't sign with an agent.
Bost is currently academically ineligible. He will face a nine game suspension, starting once the fall semester is over, if he can get himself academically eligible for the spring, meaning that Bost will likely miss the start of SEC play.
This is huge for the Bulldogs. Bost is one of the best point guards in the conference and has started all 72 games in his two years in Starksville. If he is back to himself for the stretch run, this team could make a run at a tournament bid, especially considering Renardo Sidney will be returning for their tenth game.
That's not necessarily the issue here. The issue here is that Bost declared for the NBA Draft, missed the deadline to withdraw from the draft, and made it seem like he was pretty intent on staying in*. When he didn't get drafted, he tried to return to school using a rule he didn't know was eliminated. To the outside observer, it look likes Bost played the NCAA like a violin.
*(From Kyle Veazey's blog at the Clarion Ledger: "Bost says he hasn't 'fully yet' hired an agent and also hasn't worked out for any NBA teams. 'Overseas is an option, but I'm going to bust my tail to do well in the workouts,' Bost said." Sounds like he wanted to go pro, does it not?)
The NCAA is setting a dangerous precedent here. What happens the next time a player that has declared for the draft applies for reinstatement saying they were unaware of a rule? Maybe that player claims he didn't know the limits on his relationship with an agent. Maybe he claims that he was under the assumption the deadline was the same as it was the year before. Whatever it ends up being, where does the NCAA draw the line? Can they really deny eligibility to the next Dee Bost?
A deadline is supposed to be a deadline. Ignorance of a rule is not supposed to be a defense. Neither is ignorance in general. Based on the facts, it does not seem like Bost should be allowed to continue to play college basketball.
The ironic part in all of this?
The rule that Bost broke -- keeping his name in the draft past the NCAA's May 8th deadline -- is an absolutely atrocious rule. This year, players had, more or less, a single weekend to schedule their workouts. Why would the NCAA force a kid to make possibly the most important decision of his life, whether or not to leave school, with out being able to gather all the facts?
Oh. That's right. Because the coaches -- the same coaches that make six and seven, and some even eight, figure salaries off of these amateur athletes -- did not want to continue to worry about filling a roster spot if a player left his name in the draft. Like I said. Atrocious.
But the rule is the rule and the deadline is the deadline, regardless of how absurd it is.
Everyone should have to follow it, not just the ones that can't come up with the best argument or find the biggest loophole.