SpartanMag - NCAA denies Hauser immediate eligibility, Izzo disgusted
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NCAA denies Hauser immediate eligibility, Izzo disgusted

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EAST LANSING - The NCAA has ruled against transfer Joey Hauser’s appeal for immediate eligibility, and the NCAA, in turn, has lost a good soldier in Tom Izzo, according to Michigan State’s head basketball coach.

Izzo said during a press conference at Breslin Center on Thursday that he will no longer be a part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, as a result of the NCAA’s ruling. Izzo is a former president of the NABC and a long-time member of its board of directors.

He said Thursday that because the NCAA has a seat at NABC meetings, he no longer wishes to be part of those meetings. His resignation from the NABC board of directors is effective immediately. He was president of the NABC in 2011 and has been director emeritus since 2012.

Izzo prefaced his statement by saying he remains against rules which allow immediate transfers but is “devastated” that Hauser was denied, and criticized the NCAA for lack of consistency.

Hauser is a 6-foot-9 forward who transferred from Marquette to Michigan State in 2019. He averaged 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists for Marquette last year.

“I’ve never been in the transfer and not-sit-out rule, I’ve never been in favor of the (transfer) portal,” Izzo said. “I don’t think guys should just be able to go freely because I think it’s going to hurt the guys in the end. In saying that, Joey didn’t come here because he thought he was going to play right away. There was not even any talk about that. But as waivers start to pile up as the summer went along, Joey and his family thought they had a strong case.

“I don’t really appreciate when some people are getting waivers and other people aren’t and the consistency and the guidelines for this seem absurd. There’s arbitrary decisions being made and what bothers me the most is they’re being made by individuals that don’t really understand what’s going on in our game and aren’t around the student-athletes on a daily basis.”

Izzo was frustrated by what he believes is a lack of understanding on behalf of NCAA eligibility committees, and consistency in their decisions.

“In looking at the way waivers were approved and denied and studying them like I have, the old standard of one or two reasons (to transfer and gain immediate eligibility) has just blown up,” Izzo said. “Joey did have a strong case and I’m devastated, if you want the truth.”

When Hauser transferred to Michigan State, there were no plans to pursue immediate eligibility.

“I didn’t think anything of it in August, because we weren’t going to do anything,” Izzo said. “And then when they’re family brought up that it’s going on at different places, and seeing what’s going on and talking to some coaches, I’m devastated that he will have to sit out his second season in three years.”

So devastated that he decided to end his affiliation with the NABC. Izzo said when he was invited to join the NABC, early in his career, he proudly called his former boss, Jud Heathcote.

“Jud was mad at me because I called him before accepting the invitation,” Izzo said.

Heathcote thought giving back to the game and serving on the NABC board was more important than winning games. Izzo might not agree with that, but Izzo said his decision to leave the NABC is not something he pondered lightly.

“Because of Jud Heathcote, I was taught to care about the game,” Izzo said. “I was on boards, I was on panels, I was on all those things that mattered to try to help the game become successful. Last night, I made a decision that - for the first time in 25 - that ended last night. I always tried to be a good soldier. They (the NCAA) lost a good soldier.

Izzo has been angered by the direction of the liberalization of player transfers. He believes many players who leave stable situations due to short-sighted frustrations over playing time or other issues could end up doing themselves a disservice. He believes the NCAA is opening the door to tragic endings for more student-athletes by making it easier for them to quit at one school and chase immediate gratification elsewhere.

“That’s going to hurt more people that it helps,” Izzo said. “Way, way, way more.

“I did not agree with what was going on (with the NCAA). I’m tried of beating my head against the wall to have other people tell me what’s going on in my profession.

“The NABC, I have so many respect for (NABC executive director) Jim Haney,” Izzo said. “I believe in the coaches. I believe in Jim. I believe in everybody there, but I just don’t believe that I want to be dealing with these problems and feel like I’m hitting my head against the wall.

“As far as the NCAA and their committees, they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. What Tom Izzo is going to do from here on out is he’s going to worry about his team, his family, his Spartan family and if there’s an apology to be made, I’m going to make it: I’m not going to worry about everybody else right now. I’m going to worry about my players, I’m going to worry about my university. But I am very, very disappointed in the outcome. I’m disappointed in the way it’s gone. I’m almost sick of it. I will deal with it and I will answer some questions and then I am putting it to bed. You won’t hear much from me on anything involving that organization again.”

When Izzo was asked what he means in saying the NCAA lost a good soldier, he said: “That means that I was a guy that battled with them every day. I did everything I could do. I think at the end of the day, I gave more than I took. I gave my time, my energy, I stayed on the board longer than most, on the NABC board. I’ve done some things with the NCAA for different presidents. I respect that there are some good people everywhere. I just think things have gotten crazy because we are letting too many people outside - I mean you have a committee (ruling on transfer eligibility) and I don’t think there’s a coach on the committee. Where in anybody’s profession would that happen? Well it’s because I guess people don’t trust coaches. Well, there’s a lot of coaches that I trust.

“We have some bad characters in our (coaching) profession. So do you, so do the universities, so do the politicians. But there’s no faculty, staff, administrator that spends as much time with the player as a coach. I think there’s a lot of good soldiers but not everybody gives their time to the profession in the way of being on these committees. I did, and that’s where I say I was a good soldier.”

MSU spent the off-season playing for this year without Hauser. In the fall, Izzo began contemplating how Hauser would fit into the playing group. Now, those plans are pushed aside.

Michigan State has started sophomore Thomas Kithier at power forward for its first four games. Freshman Malik Hall came off the bench at the position to score 17 points in last week’s victory at No. 12 Seton Hall. Sophomore Marcus Bingham has also gotten time at the four.

“I do believe we have a tight team and we’re going to get through it and he’s going to get through it,” Izzo said.

Hauser was a member of the Big East All-Freshman team last year and has been a talented force on MSU’s scout team this year. He will have to settle for being a scout team player for the remainder of the season, something that Kithier says will help the Spartans prepare.

“Joey gives us a great look,” Kithier said. “You’re going against a player who, in my opinion, is a pro, who can be an All-American. It makes the games easier for us. Joey can imitate dudes. He can almost imitated them better (than the players he is portraying) because he can step out. Joey can hit a shot from 35 feet, it feels like at times.”

Hauser will have to wait until next year to do it in games.