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Bock: Perez’s Denied Waiver Shows NCAA Still Lacks in New Era of College Athletics



Jose Perez
Photo: Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

Life isn’t fair. You learn throughout life that you don’t get everything you want.

But what happened to Jose Perez on Friday was unbelievably ridiculous. The NCAA ruled that Perez was ineligible to play for West Virginia this season, forcing him to sit out until the 2023-24 season. Perez only entered the transfer portal in late October because his head coach at Manhattan, Steve Masiello, was fired. Masiello was a father-like figure to Perez and couldn’t see himself playing for the Jaspers without him.

Perez tried to make the most of his final season of college. Instead, the NCAA said no way, Jose. Sources told WV Sports Now on Friday night that West Virginia is immediately submitting an appeal for Perez to play the remainder of the season.

“We are disappointed by the news that we received this afternoon from the NCAA,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “All of Mountaineer Basketball is hurting for Jose. We plan to appeal this decision.”

Perez is left with two options controlled by the NCAA, of course. If the waiver stands, Perez has the option to play for WVU next season. If the waiver is reversed, Perez can finish out his final year of eligibility this season and join this team that’s off to a great start.

“All I wanted to do is hoop,” Perez wrote on Twitter.

The world of college athletics has changed so much since 2020. The transfer portal really took off with the one-time free transfer being approved in April 2021 and NIL being passed in July 2021. The NCAA has adopted these new concepts and has claimed them as its own. They’ve been all about giving student-athletes the freedom and power they’ve deserved for decades. Transfer waivers have been handed out so freely in both football and basketball that now multi-school athletes are common.

NCAA has accommodated athletes that are in need of a waiver: family issues at home, coaching changes, or even not fitting in with a program. Why out of all situations did they look at Perez’s and say no? It defeats their purpose and motive of accepting this new era. It’s almost hypocritical of the NCAA.

Perez’s coach was fired less than two weeks before the first game of the season. What in the world was Perez supposed to do? West Virginia won the lottery during the one week of Perez’s recruitment as most Power-5 schools pursued the New York native. Both WVU and Perez can still benefit in the future but in the meantime, it seems like a nightmare for everyone involved.

With student-athletes essentially becoming professionals in the NCAA, it makes no sense for Perez to be punished. A coach can leave his team for a better opportunity with no problem. Perez wants to leave Manhattan for WVU after his coach was fired right before the season and he has to sit out. Make it make sense. And don’t use the argument that it’s a job for coaches; being a student-athlete is a job with name, image and likeness.

For Perez’s sake, I hope the appeal is reversed and he can finish out his collegiate career this spring. Perez is 24 years old and doesn’t have much time left in school. He should not have to wait a whole calendar year to play with his new team.

As of now, life isn’t fair to Perez, West Virginia’s basketball program and the new era of student-athletes.

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