Usually, we're an outlier on SB Nation when it comes to the NCAA. Editorially, we lean more toward acknowledging that the organization has justifiable reasons for the way they do things, although that doesn't go so far as to defend their desperate attempts to cling to the hoary premise of "amateurism".
Baylor running back Silas Nacita, affectionately dubbed Salsa Nacho after an autocorrect snafu, is apparently ineligible now as a result of accepting impermissible benefits. Those benefits?
A roof over his head as a walk-on who had no place to live.
Ken Rodriguez of Sports Illustrated profiled Nacita back in December, telling the tale of a homeless high-schooler who waited tables and slept on the floor at the apartments of friends just to scrape up the money to enroll at Baylor -- where, despite the demands of football and the strains of his living circumstances, the young man was named Academic All-Big 12. And now, as a result of the kindness of those friends, Nacita is no longer eligible to play college football.
What sort of insanity is this? What recruiting advantage did Baylor realize from people letting a walk-on sleep on the floor? In what way was Nacita exploiting his athletic ability in order to receive benefits unavailable to other students? Are we really to be expected to accept that a hard-working kid who is doing exactly what the NCAA likes to champion when defending itself against its critics -- making the most out of his opportunity to get an education -- is now, in the eyes of the NCAA, a cheater?
This, frankly, is an outrage, and the NCAA should probably take note that when bloggers for teams who are conference rivals are telling them they screwed up, they probably did. This is not Baylor fans expressing their disdain for this ruling; this is a blog which covers a team which might theoretically be damaged by the restoration of Nacita's eligibility.
None of us give a damn if Nacita accepted the "impermissible benefit" of having a place to sleep. The NCAA is using their ham-handed authority in the name of "amateurism" to do exactly what Avery Brundage intended when he championed the principle:
Discriminating against poor brown people.
That's what it boils down to. The NCAA is saying that if you can't get an athletic scholarship, can't get a loan, and you're desperately poor... you're not welcome. That if your economic situation is so dire that you require the help of friends just to avoid sleeping in a dumpster, you have no value.
The NCAA needs to look within itself and contemplate this in depth. And then the NCAA needs to figure out a way to address this problem in a rational manner, with compassion and common sense. Dignity demands it.
Update: PLOT TWIST:
The NCAA did not declare Silas Nacita ineligible and Baylor has not requested a waiver for him.— NCAA (@NCAA) February 25, 2015
Is the NCAA fibbing, preparing to offer a waiver if Baylor asks for one? Did Baylor just cover their backsides here, hoping to apply for one after saying "Hey, we did the right thing here"? Is Baylor just trying to get rid of Nacita?