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Bock: NCAA Made Example Out of Jose Perez, West Virginia



Jose Perez
Photo: Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

Here we are again.

The last time I wrote a commentary on Jose Perez, his waiver was denied by the NCAA back on Dec. 16. Now, Perez’s appeal was denied on Wednesday night, just 90 minutes before West Virginia hosted Baylor in Morgantown. The NCAA knew what they were doing.

The NCAA made an example out of Perez and West Virginia’s basketball program. The NCAA is trying to cut down on student-athletes transferring multiple times per their new criteria approved by the council on Wednesday.

“The Council voted unanimously to update guidelines for the waiver process for undergraduate student-athletes who are transferring for a second time…

“Each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but moving forward, student-athletes must meet one of the following criteria to be granted a waiver to compete immediately.”

  • A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student’s support system will be considered), or
  • Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athletes’ immediate departure from the previous school (e.g. physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athletes athletics participation.

Perez did what he was asked, West Virginia did what they were asked. Perez didn’t practice with the team until the first semester was over, he enrolled for the spring semester in November. West Virginia didn’t cheat in any way to have him prepared to begin his season. They didn’t cheat their way to a waiver approval either. Both parties did what they were asked and now Perez is left hurt.

“Y’all don’t know half the sh-t I had to go through sh-t really wack,” Perez wrote on Instagram. “Just cause someone felt a type of way I left their intuition based on a decision they made.”

Perez is referring to the way Manhattan College dealt with the transfer process. It’s pretty clear now that they tried to trap Perez and his teammates. Manhattan fired head coach Steve Masiello with less than two weeks before their first game of the season. Why wait until the end of October? Why not fire Masiello during the summer or wait until the end of this season? Manhattan thought that the players wouldn’t want to leave just days before the season started. They knew if they fired Masiello at any other time that a group of them would leave, causing the replacement head coach to scramble.

Perez along with Manhattan teammates Omar Silverio and Samba Diallo entered the transfer portal after Masiello was dismissed. Oddly enough, Silverio and Diallo are both still in the portal and have the talent to join another Division-I program.

“To find out that a waiver to play right away wouldn’t be supported for me cause I wasn’t there long enough is wild and makes no sense,” Silverio wrote on Twitter last month. “Why make things difficult for me for no reason.”

Manhattan reportedly had nothing to do with Perez’s initial waiver being denied, but the players speaking out about the situation as a whole says a lot.

I think what people don’t realize is some players commit to a coaching staff. Yes, they commit to a school to play basketball and earn a degree, but a lot of guys are committing to a coaching staff that they can trust. Perez committed to Masiello. Why would he stick around with a team that no longer is run by his coach, his father figure?

It makes zero sense why Perez should be punished.

There are plenty of examples of student-athletes playing with three or four schools. West Virginia alone can relate recently with JT Daniels in football and Erik Stevenson in basketball. Both guys have attended four schools. Daniels started out his career at USC then Georgia, then WVU and now Rice. Stevenson went from Wichita State to Washington to South Carolina and is now finishing up his collegiate career at West Virginia. Obviously, both had different circumstances: Daniels got hurt and Stevenson wanted to go home to UW.

But why is Perez’s situation where the NCAA draws the line in the sand?

“Extremely unfortunate. I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying it but [the NCAA] don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said on Wednesday night. “I’m against anything that hurts young people. I’m against anything that takes away a chance for a young person to succeed in life. This guy is a good student, he’s a good kid.”

Perez is eligible to play for West Virginia for the 2023-24 season but there’s no guarantee that he will stick it out. The plan all along was to play at WVU this season and move on from college. It’s hard to tell somebody to stick it out for another calendar year who will be a sixth-year senior next year.

The NCAA made an example out of Perez and West Virginia’s basketball program. It’s fine, they had to make an example out of somebody. Unfortunately for Perez and WVU, it was them.

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