Two Egyptian basketball players have been deemed ineligible this season by the NCAA over claims they "participated in organized competition" beyond the grace period of one-year allowed by the NCAA in between high school graduation and college enrollment.
According to a report on Thursday from Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Aly Ahmed and Ahmed Hamdy maintain they were simply following the directions of their mentor, former Rice University and FIU assistant Marco Morcos, who helped bring them to the U.S. in 2010. Ahmed has been deemed ineligible after playing two seasons at a Houston-area private school; Hamdy cannot play because he also spent an extra season at Trent Internationale School in Sugar Land, Texas.
NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford said the decision has been made but that Cal State Bakersfield and the University of Houston can appeal the ruling if new information becomes available:
"NCAA rules allow for a one-year grace period after high school graduation for participation in sports before college enrollment. Any competition participation beyond this grace period is subject to NCAA review. In regards to Ahmed and Hamdy, NCAA staff thoroughly reviewed each case, but agreed that the respective student-athletes participated in organized competition beyond the allowed grace period. As is the case with all waiver review decisions, each school has the ability to seek further consideration if new information becomes available."
The two student-athletes spoke to ESPN, saying they're confused why they're suddenly being deemed ineligible:
"I have no idea why I can't play. I just did what I was told to do," Ahmed said.
"I'm not eligible because I went to Trent for an extra year. Marcos told me to go the extra year, and I didn't know better. I had no clue what to do," Hamdy added.
Marcos denies ever giving them the advice to play an extra season:
"I know the rules. Why would I tell him that? Once those kids were enrolled at Trent, I had no influence over them whatsoever. They were not advised by me."WOLFF: The Shot: New Rochelle vs. Mt. Vernon, March 3, 2013