October 25, 2011
Thanks to an obscure rule in the NCAA's needlessly thick rulebook, Washington fans will not be able to watch Terrence Ross go one-on-one with Brandon Roy or Aziz N'Diaye attempt to post up Spencer Hawes.
A school spokesman said Tuesday that the Huskies have canceled the scrimmage they planned to hold Wednesday afternoon pitting current players against prominent alumni such as Roy, Hawes, Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas. Washington did not want to risk violating an NCAA rule permitting an ex-player to participate in an organized practice only if "the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session."
Washington likely would have been in jeopardy of a secondary violation since the school invited fans to attend the alumni scrimmage and coach Lorenzo Romar spoke about it in a radio interview with KJR-AM on Tuesday morning.
"With the lockout, I thought it might be a good idea with our team instead of having our weekly scrimmage against each other, we'll bring some of the guys that are hanging around in to scrimmage against our guys at the end of practice," Romar said. "Those guys are trying to get into condition because they haven't played a lot. So it's kind of a win-win situation."
The ex-Huskies who planned to participate in the scrimmage understood why Washington canceled it, but several vented their frustration at the NCAA's many rules on Twitter Wednesday evening.
"NCAA is such a joke," Hawes wrote. "NCAA should embrace former athletes going back to school and supporting their athletic programs. What harm does it do? Everyone benefits."
Added former point guard Isaiah Thomas, "If they didn't cancel tomorrows game 1st off we woulda won by 30, 2nd off it woulda been PACKED and a great thing 4 the fans and the players. And it was FREE... What's the problem?? NCAA rules are ridiculous."
As the Bylaw Blog's John Infante pointed out Tuesday night, the primary issue is that the NCAA does not have an exception for an alumni game in basketball the way it does in many other sports. The fear is schools might abuse the privilege by holding an exhibition game against a veritable NBA team, so the NCAA allows only two exhibition games or one exhibition and a closed scrimmage instead.
Although schools with numerous prominent NBA alumni would have a slim advantage if this rule changed, it's difficult to find the negative in that. It's hard to see who benefits by Washington being unable to promote an alumni scrimmage free of charge to the public.