NCAA BK

Report: Church-league penalty nixed

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Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner is a general assignment writer for FOXSports.com. Originally from Orlando, Fla., he previously covered the Orlando Magic for FOX Sports Florida and has also covered the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and MLB playoffs. Follow him on Twitter.

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Two days after the news broke that a Colgate basketball player had been stripped of a year of eligibility over his participation in three church-league games, the NCAA reportedly has reversed its decision, giving Nathan Harries a full four years of eligibility with the Raiders.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brought the original ruling to light Tuesday, reporting that the NCAA had determined that Harries, an Atlanta-area product and devout Mormon, had played in an organized and competitive basketball league this summer after returning from a two-year mission.

The NCAA denied Harries’ request for a waiver on Oct. 21, despite Harries’ claims that the squad he played for was a “C-level team.” His father described the Dunwoody Baptist Church league — for which Nathan was just a fill-in — as an “old man’s league” in an interview with the AJC.

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“Some of the rulings that come from the NCAA don’t make sense,” Harries father, Michael, told the paper. “Johnny Manziel gets a half-game suspension for signing autographs. A guy plays three games in a church league, and he loses a year. Obviously there’s a difference between big-time athletes and small-time athletes with the NCAA.”

Once the ruling was brought to the public’s attention, it was widely ridiculed, much like a similar decision earlier this year that temporarily left a Middle Tennessee football player ineligible over a Marine intramural league.

So it came as little surprise Thursday when the Journal-Constitution cited a source who said the NCAA had decided to restore Harries’ fourth year of eligibility.

It’s good news for Harries and a win for common sense, but even though the NCAA got it right in the end, you can’t help but wonder how it ever got this call wrong in the first place.

Colgate opens its basketball season Friday on the road against Wake Forest.

Tagged: Colgate

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