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Shortly thereafter, within a matter of a few days, an NCAA subcommittee reviewed the information and arranged for a telephone conference of the interested parties. They asked a few questions about the facts and circumstances and concluded that Reed Larson's eligibility should be restored and not impaired.
Interestingly enough, I should point out that during the course of this telephone conférence call it became abundantly clear that none of the members of this Eligibility Committee had ever even been advised by the NCAA that there was any legal action pending.
In any event, Reed Larson then was permitted to enter the University of Minnesota. He received his financial aid from the university via one of those six hockey scholarships. His eligibility had been restored. He participated in intercollegiate hockey for some 212 years with the University of Minnesota. In this case there was a happy ending thanks to a U.S. district court judge in Minneapolis.
In conclusion, it appears clear that by suggesting that a preliminary injunction be granted the U.S. district court judge was in effect concurring with our position that Reed Larson's constitutional rights, more likely than not, had been affected and he had been deprived of his constitutional rights under the 14th amendment. It also appears clear that because of a morass of procedural regulations, Reed was blocked from getting any kind of appellate determination by the NCAA as to whether or not he was eligible or ineligible.
As a practical matter, Reed could never become a full-time student because he and his family did not have the financial aid, the university was not going to offer him a scholarship with the eligibility clouded, and the NCAA refused to hear the matter until he did become a full-time student.
Last, I would like to point out to this committee that when student athletes are put in a position where their constitutional rights are deprived by an NCAA rule or regulation, they are placed in the absurd position where it is impractical for them to obtain any redress, and ability to right a wrong, because there are NCAA regulations that prohibit any person in the position of Reed Larson to obtain legal counsel unless that person is willing to pay to legal counsel the full and reasonable value of that legal counsel's services.
I understand further that there are NCAA rules and regulations that prevent any other person giving any money to a student athlete or a Reed Larson type with which to pay legal fees. So you have the absurd situation where a person may be denied his constitutional rights, does not have the funds to retain a lawyer, and if he obtains a lawyer he subjects himself to a loss of eligibility unless he is able to pay for the legal fees of that lawyer.
In this case the tragedy could have been that some member institution would not have been harmed by the NCAA's caprice and whimsy but it would have been some very innocent 17-year-old young man who merely wanted to accept the opportunity for some college education, some intercollegiate athletics.
Mr. Moss. Mr. Raabe?
Mr. Raabe. Mr. Simon, who is the NCAA counsel that you negotiated with ?
Mr. Simon. I think the gentlemen's names were Mr. Gangwere from Kansas City and Mr. Wright Brooks from Minneapolis.
Mr. RAABE. Thank you.
I am trying to remember all my law school law that I have not practiced in a good many years. It appears to me that one rule I remember learning was that the court or the administrative body you appeared before had to have jurisdiction. As I understand the dilemma that you as a lawyer found yourself in with the Larson case, it was that the NCAA only has jurisdiction over students and your client was not yet a student. Is that correct? Therefore, they took the position that they had no jurisdiction.
Mr. SIMON. That is correct.
Mr. LENT. Do you think the NCAA should appropriate unto itself jurisdiction over not only student athletes but also potential student athletes? Would this be a way of getting around the difficulties that you found yourself in ?
Mr. Simon. Yes, I think they should.
Mr. LENT. But you could understand, I suppose, as a lawyer that up until that point their rules and regulations only provided that they would have jurisdiction over student athletes and your client was not yet in that position. They would refuse to hear a case where they had no jurisdiction. You can appreciate that, I am sure, as an attorney.
Mr. Simon. I can appreciate it but I think it is total impractical.
We merely wanted a simple answer to a simple question: Can this man play college hockey? He signed an agreement which is in violation of your regulations but he was under the age of 18. Can he or can't he?
Mr. LENT. And then there was another rule that says that administrative bodies and courts do not like to give advisory opinions. They like to have an actual case or controversy brought before them. Until Mr. Larson actually enrolled in a college and had the question presented, they would be in a position of rendering an advisory opinion.
Mr. Simon. Theoretically that is correct, but Reed Larson had no way of getting into college. He had no funds and he could not get the aid.
Mr. LENT. So you took the next best step and went into Federal district court.
Mr. SIMON. Correct.
Mr. LENT. As a result of a settlement that you entered into before the judge made a ruling, you were able to get your client matriculated into a university. Is that correct?
Mr. Simon. That is correct.
Mr. LENT. The next step was that he was declared ineligible, correct?
Mr. Simon. No, he was declared eligible.
Mr. LENT. Who declared him eligible, the subcommittee on eligibility of the NCAA?
Mr. SIMON. Yes.
Mr. SIMON. It would not have been solved unless we used the leverage of a lawsuit and it would not have been solved unless a U.S. district court judge looked their counsel in the eye and said, "I'm going to grant the preliminary injunction.” That is the problem.
Mr. LENT. I have to figure the way around this. What could the NCAA do so that this doesn't happen again with the next Reed Larson?
Mr. Simon. It is very simple. They could have done exactly what the Big Ten did. The Big Ten wrote a nice, short letter which made a lot of sense. It said they had discussed the matter and, since the boy was under the age of 18, they were going to approve his eligibility:
Mr. LENT. So this could be straightened out with a rule change on the part of the NCAA?
Mr. ŠIMON. Absolutely.
Mr. Moss. Gentlemen, we appreciate your appearance here today. We thank you for it.
Mr. Simon. It is a pleasure to be here.
Mr. Moss. There being no further questions, the committee will stand adjourned until tomorrow at 1 p.m. when we will reconvene in room 2322 of the Rayburn Building.
[Whereupon, at 2:05 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned to reconvene Tuesday, March 14, 1978, at 1 p.m.]
NCAA ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM
TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 1978
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:30 p.m., in room 2332, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John E. Moss (chairman) presiding.
Mr. Moss. The subcommittee will be in order.
We continue this afternoon with the subcommittee's examination of NCAA enforcement procedures. We hear today from two distinguished gentlemen who, unlike most of our previous witnesses, do not appear as representatives of any particular institution.
While Dr. John Fuzak is from Michigan State University, a formerly disciplined member of the NCAA, he appears today as the immediate past president of the NCAA. His intimate firsthand knowledge of the workings of the NCAA will be of great value to this subcommittee.
Mickey Holmes is commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference, itself a member of the NCAA.
Before we begin with Dr. Fuzak, I would like to assure the NCAA and its partisans of our intent to hear from everyone who has information pertinent to this inquiry. Letters to me in recent days inferring otherwise are either uninformed or not well intended. By the way, I take it as fortuitous happenstance when I receive such letters before the press does.
Dr. Fuzak, will you please stand and be sworn.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give to the subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. FUZAK. I do.
have Mr. LUKEN. Mr. Chairman, I wonder if it would be appropriate to observe that there appears to be something in the air on the Floor today. We may be interrupted frequently if the present pattern continues.
I think the witnesses and those in attendance should know that we are not trying in any way to be discourteous to them, but some of us may have to leave to attend to the votes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.