Today's Cecil Hurt Article: A fifth year for Davis the right thing to ask for
Sometimes, even if you know you are tilting at windmills, you have to tilt at windmills anyway.
So that is what Mark Gottfried and the University of Alabama basketball program are going to do in the case of Chuck Davis.
UA will petition the NCAA to allow a hardship waiver for Davis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Crimson Tide’s first SEC game of the season against Ole Miss. It would require some truly special dispensation from the NCAA, because Davis does not meet all the criteria laid down in the NCAA Bylaw (14.2.4). That rule allows a hardship year only for players who participated in less than 20 percent of the team’s contests. Davis played in 13 of the Tide’s 29 games (NCAA Tournament games do not count in the calculation), so it would take special dispensation indeed for him to get another year to play.
That isn’t going to stop Gottfried from trying.
“We’re attempting this for one purpose," Gottfried said. “That sole purpose is that it would be a great thing for Chuck Davis."
If anyone deserves a break, it’s Davis. The 6-foot-7 forward actually played only two full seasons in his four-year career. As a freshman, he was essentially the last player off the bench, seeing action in just 13 games, almost none of it against SEC competition. At the time, though, Davis didn’t want to redshirt.
In the next two seasons, Davis made startling improvement on the court, becoming one of the SEC’s best players. He did it while maintaining an accelerated academic pace. He kept working, and playing, despite the illness and eventual death of his mother.
Then came the serious knee injury in the Ole Miss game.
After the knee injury, he lost nearly 25 pounds during the recovery process. Still, he came to games to lend moral support to his teammates.
“He epitomizes the NCAA student-athlete," Gottfried said. “He had an unfortunate circumstance that ended his senior year. He would benefit tremendously from an additional year, so we are attempting to see if he can get that.
“You look around and you see other players getting sixth years. I saw where they just granted that to a player at UC-Santa Barbara [All-Big West guard Cecil Brown]. We aren’t asking for a sixth year. Chuck would just be a fifth-year player.
"Gottfried knows that the odds are long, probably insurmountable. He’s heard, frequently, that there is no chance of Davis playing next season.
Of course, this time last year, there were NCAA “experts" saying that Randolph Morris would never play for Kentucky again, or that he certainly wouldn’t play in 2006. He did. There have been all sorts of “experts" saying that some of the SEC’s prep-school vagabonds would not be eligible to play, either. Some do. The fact is, there is never an absolute “never" with the NCAA. Its rulings aren’t always predictable. So Gottfried is hoping that this will be one of those cases, too.
Even if it isn’t, at least Davis will know that his coach and his school went to bat for him, rather than simply saying “sorry, there’s no way." At worst, one assumes that it goes into the “never-hurts-to-ask" category (although it’s always risky to assume where the NCAA is concerned). If nothing else, there will be closure for Davis as far as college basketball is concerned, and he can make other plans, whether they include professional basketball or a business career, without wondering what the NCAA might have said.