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ACC Basketball: NCAA should grant Paulus' transfer

By Caulton Tudor
Raleigh News & Observer
If Greg Paulus can come up with an avenue to extend his playing days as a college athlete in a sport other than basketball, the NCAA has no business blocking his path.
Having exhausted his basketball eligibility at Duke, the former high school quarterback star is now shopping for a football uniform. He’s had talks with Michigan and obviously wants to meet with other schools.
But landing safely on his feet in a Division I football program likely will be the least of Paulus’ problems. In order to play in the 2009 season for any school above the Division II competitive category, he will need to receive a special NCAA waiver.
Historically, the governing organization grants such approvals only to players with medical hardships or unusual emergencies. That’s one problem. Another is an NCAA requirement that Paulus would have to pursue a graduate school degree not offered at Duke.
Forget the fact that Paulus, who hasn’t played organized football in more than four years, is a long shot to help any program as a quarterback. Heck, Duke even said “no way” to that idea and until 2008, the Blue Devils were about the lowest form of Division I football on the map.
More important than Paulus’ ability to scrape the rust off his passing arm is the issue of student rights. Paulus is expected to graduate on time next month. As long as he doesn’t play basketball, why should the NCAA care where or how he spends the last of his five years of sports eligibility?
In fact, that part of it shouldn’t even be any of the NCAA’s business unless there’s illegal recruiting or shady admissions wheeling and dealing afoot.
If an athlete meets the requirements and gets through graduate school admissions process, it shouldn’t matter whatsoever whether the new school is Michigan or Muhlenberg. For the NCAA to say otherwise is an affront to the words “higher education.”
Paulus is not a transferring underclassmen upset over a lack of playing time or mad at his coach. He’s a grad school candidate chasing an athletic dream.
The NCAA rule in question should never have been written in the first place. Yet, it is so intimidating that former North Carolina starting quarterback Cameron Sexton didn’t even seriously challenge it before moving on to Division II Catawba earlier this year.
Paulus said Thursday that he’s got a lot of “homework” ahead. Amen to that. The only way he’s a lock to win this battle would be if ESPN joined his cause and advised the NCAA that Paulus on a football field would equate to a boost in television ratings.
Fact is, there would be a lot of viewer audience interest in Paulus playing football. And while the NCAA doesn’t always lend an open ear to basic logic, it can hear a cash register drawer open from a mile away.

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