Jimmy’s blog: NCAA should grant Mays’ waiver request

By Jimmy Hyams

Quarterback J.T. Daniels traveled over 2,200 miles from his home in Santa Ana, California, as he transferred from USC to Georgia.

The NCAA granted Daniels – who lost his job to a freshman – immediate eligibility.

Offensive lineman Cade Mays left Georgia under difficult circumstances – his parents filed suit in December against the Georgia Athletic Association and others – and transferred to his hometown university, Tennessee.
The NCAA denied Mays immediate eligibility.

On the surface, that doesn’t make much sense.

A player leaves home, goes 2,277 miles cross country and wins a waiver.

A player returns home and doesn’t.

Go figure.

That’s the modern-day NCAA, where common sense seems to play no roll in decisions that emanate from NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

Sure, each case is different.

But this one seems like a no-brainer.

Maybe Daniels got a waiver because USC supported the transfer while Georgia – according to Mays’ attorney Greg Isaacs — did not support Mays’ transfer.

Last week, Isaacs filed a request for reconsideration to the NCAA, seeking immediate eligibility for Mays.

The NCAA is expected to rule soon.

If the NCAA denies the request, then Mays can file an official appeal.

The SEC adopted a rule several years ago saying any non-graduate player that transfers within the SEC must sit a year, unless he wins an appeal.

That is similar to the NCAA’s position.

One SEC coach told me winning an NCAA waiver is simple: Get support from the school where the student-athlete is transferring from.

I don’t know the percentage of waivers granted by the NCAA because a school supported the transfer leaving.

But I wonder this: If a school can argue against the transfer, can the commissioner of that league argue for the transfer.

Most schools don’t want to play against a quality player who has transferred within its conference. So it stands to reason a school like Georgia wouldn’t support Mays going to Tennessee.

But what if SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stepped in and supported – to the NCAA – the transfer of Mays?

Yes, I know the SEC rule.

Still, I asked the SEC office if Sankey could intervene.

“The commissioner does not play a role when it is at the NCAA level,’’ was the response from SEC media spokesman Herb Vincent.

Fair enough.

But I also know some of the circumstances surrounding Mays’ decision to leave.

For one, Georgia coaches told Cade Mays if he signed with the Bulldogs, Georgia would recruit his younger brother, Cooper, so they could play together in college.

But a source said Georgia quit recruiting Cooper. who eventually signed with Tennessee.

Secondly, Georgia bounced Mays around from one spot to the other on the offensive line, which was apparently unsettling to Mays.

A Georgia assistant later apologized to Mays for the way he was treated, a source said.

Attorney Tom Mars, who initially represented Mays before leaving to join the NCAA’s staff, said declaring Mays eligible right away was a “slam dunk.’’

Isaacs said Mays was in a “toxic environment’’ and left Georgia because of his “emotional well being’’ and returned to Knoxville “where he feels safe.’’

So, a player from USC transfers to Georgia because he got beat out at his position and can play right away, while a player in a toxic environment looking out for his emotional well being is denied.

That’s not a good luck for the NCAA – or the SEC.

Shouldn’t the well being of a student-athlete be at the top of the NCAA check list for reasonable transfers?

Tennessee is hopeful of hearing from the NCAA on its request for reconsideration soon.

“I’m optimistic the process with be transparent with both the NCAA and the SEC,’’ Isaacs said Wednesday.

Maybe it’s not the roll of a commissioner to intervene, to stick up for a player seeking what appears to be a legitimate transfer (not one based solely on playing time, like with so many quarterbacks who get immediate eligibility).

But at a time when we have a pandemic, at a time when schools should show greater support for the well being of student-athletes, Sankey or the NCAA should do what Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin suggested recently:

Free Cade Mays.


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