Contempt Hearing Draws Out an Unapologetic NCAA


EUREKA, Calif. (CN) – After ignoring an earlier hearing on wide receiver Marquise Deadwiler’s quest to play for his college team this year, attorneys for the National Collegiate Athletic Association decided to actually show up Wednesday for a hearing on the player’s request for contempt sanctions.
     In their absence at the earlier hearing, held on Sept. 12, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson granted a temporary restraining order allowing Humboldt State Jacks wide receiver to play the next day.
     However, on Saturday, the Jacks’ head coach, Rob Smith, kept Deadwiler out of the game.
     Deadwiler’s attorney, Guy Ricciardulli, later blamed the NCAA, California State University and Humboldt State University for Smith’s decision, and filed a request for sanctions.
     As previously reported by Courthouse News, the wide receiver has been waiting a year to play due to a mixup with college credits.
     Last year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association deemed 17 HSU student athletes ineligible because they had not taken 24 units toward their major the previous school year.
     HSU officials were not aware of the NCAA rule, which took effect in the 1990s, and had not advised student athletes appropriately, according to the university’s newspaper, Dec. 3, 2013.
     Most of the students the NCAA had deemed ineligible took summer school and were able to play the 2013-2014 season, according to the paper.
     Deadwiler took summer school, too, but the course he ran past the HSU registrar turned out to be on the quarter system, instead of HSU’s semester system, making his credits just short, the paper said.
     Ricciardulli filed suit on Deadwiler’s behalf September 9, detailing why he should be allowed to play the 2014-2015 Season. The request for the temporary restraining order was sought so the wide receiver would not lose time on the field while the complaint wound through court.
     Deadwiler is not alone in being deemed ineligible to participate in athletics by the NCAA. On Friday, UCLA announced top freshman basketball player Jonah Bolden was deemed ineligible, due to switching schools, according to ESPN, and Isaiah Jones, a wide receiver for the Florida State Seminoles was ruled academically ineligible Aug. 16. In fact, so many players have been deemed ineligible this year that Brian Pederson of Bleacher Report, a company owned by Time Warner, called them a “virtual all-star team of college football talent.”
     At Wednesday’s hearing, Ricciardulli argued that Deadwiler was misadvised regarding the college units he needed to be eligible to play football in 2013-2014.
     But the NCAA disagreed, its attorneys arguing there’s more to the story than a simple mix-up. In their brief, attorneys Luis Li and Justin Raphael, of Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, said Deadwiler never sat out a six game penalty he owes for transferring from a two-year college to a four-year college without skipping a season, as required.
     In addition they argued the NCAA doesn’t make the rules by which college football operates, it’s member colleges do.
     Finally, “the NCAA did not tell anyone Deadwiler could not play last Saturday,” Li said. “They are allowed to give an interpretation of their own rules.”
     Ricciardulli responded by arguing that Deadwiler already sat out the 6 games, because he sat out 11 games in 2013.
     Li replied that sitting out six games only counts if the player is deemed eligible for the season.
     And so it went.
     Later, attorneys for Humboldt State said the university had used the NCAA’s process to appeal each decision negatively affecting Deadwiler’s ability to play.
     This prompted Li to contend that yet another reason the case should not go through the courts is that the NCAA’s appeals process is not finished.
     “He hasn’t exhausted his administrative remedies,” Li said.
     The assertion frustrated Ricciardulli.
     “The appeal is ongoing; it’s been going on for how long, and how much longer? The season is going to be over before he can play,” Ricciardulli said.
     A source confirmed contempt sanctions were denied late Wednesday. All parties were represented at the contempt hearing; Ricciardulli appeared by phone. Those present in the room declined comment on the record.
     Sept. 20 The Jacks are scheduled to play Dixie State, in Utah, on September 20; the following week, they play Western Oregon University.
     Deadwiler’s hearing on the merits of his case is scheduled for Oct. 3.

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