Saint Joseph's President Responds to SI.com Article
Dec. 20, 2011
Many of you have seen or commented upon a first-person story appearing yesterday on the web site of Sports Illustrated magazine. The story was submitted by a former Saint Joseph's University student-athlete whose request in mid-July 2011 for a waiver to play basketball at another institution during 2011-2012 was not supported by Saint Joseph's.
I write to assure our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends that Saint Joseph's complied with all applicable NCAA procedures in this case. It is clearly not a part of the University's mission to block any student from pursuing their academic or athletic goals. However, it is the University's obligation to review all student-athlete waiver requests in a consistent manner and to evaluate the facts and circumstances of each request. It is worth noting that SJU has supported such requests a large majority of the time across its many varsity sports. If a request for a waiver is not granted and an appeal is taken to the NCAA, it is the national association, not individual member institutions, which makes the final determination on the eligibility of individual student-athletes.
Federal law and the University's own student privacy guidelines necessarily limit what the University can make public in matters involving individual students. Such limitation applies to the current matter and the University is mindful of its obligation to all its students, including former ones, regarding their privacy.
What can be appropriately shared regarding this matter is that Saint Joseph's did provide all relevant information to the NCAA Legislative Relief Waiver Team, which, as a matter of public record, made an initial decision not to grant the requested waiver. Upon further appeal by the student-athlete, the Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief concurred with the initial review and made its final decision to deny the appeal. As only the student-athlete and his new university were parties to the appeal, Saint Joseph's will not make any public statements regarding the appeal and its outcome.
Finally, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the consistent dedication -- to all students and alumni of Saint Joseph's University -- that is displayed every day by athletics director Don DiJulia and men's basketball coach Phil Martelli. These are men who are respected across the nation for their actions and priorities. We also acknowledge the contributions while on Hawk Hill of the student-athlete in this case, and regret the differences of opinion that led to his dissatisfaction with Saint Joseph's.
John Smithson '68 MBA `82