Arguably, Pitt's Mike Cook had little shot at getting a medical redshirt. He would essentially be asking for a 6th year of eligibility. He transferred from East Carolina after his sophomore year -- sitting out per NCAA rules. He went down in the 11th game of Pitt's season.
The NCAA rules do not permit a player to get a medical redshirt if they suited up for more than 30% of the team's games. Pitt played in a total of 37 games in 2007-08, but they don't all get counted. According to the NCAA rules the four-game Hispanic College Fund Basketball Challenge Pitt participated counted as only two games. The Big East Tournament, in which Pitt played four games, only counted as one game. The two NCAA Tournament games are not counted at all. So, Pitt is credited with playing 30 games. That put Mike Cook's percentage of games played at 36.67% (11/30). In that respect, it was no surprise when the NCAA finally said no to his appeal.
So what exactly were Pitt and Mike Cook appealing, and why did it take the NCAA's student-athlete reinstatement committee some two months to turn down his appeal?
It seems Pitt pointed out a flaw in the way they do the math.
The way the NCAA counts games that a team plays is a little strange. They only credit Pitt for 30 games. Mike Cook, however, is credited with playing 11 games, with four of the games being the aforementioned Hispanic College Fund Basketball Challenge. The same four games that the NCAA counted as counting for only two games in the number the school played. If they were consistent, then Mike Cook should only be credited with playing 9 games. That would put his percentage at exactly 30% (9/30) of Pitt's games played, and eligible for the redshirt.
That case was made to the reinstatement committee nearly two months ago. Its members apparently thought hard about this, because they did not issue an answer for quite a while. But they still said no.
"They say, 'There may be merit to your case, but we can't do anything about it,' " Dixon said.
The university was told it could attempt to change the rule through the NCAA's legislative process.
Of course, by the time a new rule could be adopted, Mike Cook's grandkids would be D-I prospects.
If the committee had wanted to be just, it could have essentially rewritten the rule by issuing a precedent-setting decision. Instead, the committee chose expedience.
That's supposed to be the point of the appeals committee. To hear and consider other information. To make a decision based on both the rules and what fairness and equity dictate. The NCAA, however, loves its bureaucracy. Rules must be followed. The system is fine. Order is maintained.
At least Pitt is doing right by the still rehabbing Mike Cook. While Pitt continues to oversee his rehab, he may continue to take classes at Pitt towards a masters degree on scholarship.