Hampton AD says ‘double-digit’ football players, other athletes do not meet NCAA eligibility requirements

Mike Caudill/The Virginian-Pilot/TNS

A host of Hampton University athletes, including members of the football team, do not meet NCAA eligibility requirements, athletic director Anthony Henderson announced Friday.

Henderson did not specify the number of total athletes, and in a release noted that “multiple” student-athletes had eligibility issues. But reached by phone Friday, Henderson confirmed that at least “double-digit” members of the football team were not eligible for last week’s loss to Norfolk State.

It’s unclear how many players are affected for Saturday’s game against Howard University — the “Battle for the Real HU” — at Audi Field in Washington.

“One of my principal responsibilities as the new Hampton University Director of Athletics is to ensure full eligibility and compliance of all student-athletes with NCAA, CAA, and University policies and requirements,” Henderson said in a release. “Unfortunately, my assessment has revealed that multiple student-athletes do not meet eligibility requirements based upon NCAA bylaws. Until all requirements are met, affected student-athletes must be withheld from competing in their respective sports.

Henderson, hired in February, added that he plans to work “tirelessly with all parties involved” to return the student-athletes involved to competition.

“I really can’t give you a number,” Henderson told The Pilot Friday. “It’s not just football, it’s across multiple sports. Basically, what we’re doing is making sure that everybody that we have on the field this year is eligible to play. So we don’t endanger any of the games moving forward.”

Rumors began circulating on social media this week that Hampton’s football team was facing eligibility issues. Asked about eligibility issues on Wednesday, HU football coach Robert Prunty said, “I have no knowledge of that”.

Attempts to reach Prunty on Friday were unsuccessful.

Hampton is 1-1 – with a win over Grambling State and a loss to Norfolk State – heading into Saturday’s game against Howard.

“It affected us more last week than it will this week,” Henderson told The Pilot. “The process is basically we have to go back and re-certify some of the student-athletes that have questions. Every time you send something to the NCAA, they come back with more questions, just to make sure that you’re covering all the bases. So we’re down tremendously from where we started.”

Henderson clarified that the issue of having ineligible student-athletes isn’t something that just happened overnight.

“This was something we’ve been working on for a couple of weeks,” Henderson said. “I think last week, with football having so many guys not dressed it kinda brought the attention to it that it got to the point that it is now.”

Henderson confirmed to The Pilot that an HU volleyball match scheduled for Sept. 5 between Hampton and Norfolk State had to be postponed due to eligibility concerns for Hampton. A source told The Pilot this week that Hampton only had three players who eligibility was certified by the NCAA.

In his letter Friday, Henderson said he has increased the number of university compliance staff members and athletics academic support staff members to “ensure future adherence to all eligibility requirements”.

“I will continue to provide you with critical updates and information about this matter and the Department of Athletics overall,” Henderson said in the release. “I appreciate all of the ways in which you support our student-athletes and Hampton University, and I look forward to working together to position our program for ongoing success.”

Although the Hampton Athletics Department staff directory lists “TBA” is listed for several roles – including Director of Compliance, Director of Academic Support & Student-Athlete Success and Assistant Athletics Director of Academic Achievement & Leadership – Henderson confirmed those roles are filled.

There’s no time frame for re-certifying the athletes who are ineligible. Henderson said the aim is to get through the athletes participating in fall sports during the next week.

“As soon as we finish the fall sports we’re gonna get a jump on winter and spring before they even get to the competition phase,” Henderson said.

Michael Sauls,, (757) 803-5774