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College basketball player writes letter to NCAA advocating end to rule that barred Bellarmine from NCAA Tournament

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The Bellarmine men’s basketball team continues to pursue an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. senior guard Juston Betz wrote a letter to the NCAA asking for a chance for the team to qualify for next season’s tournament.

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“There is nothing more powerful than a community of people fighting for what they think is right,” Betz wrote in a letter he shared with The Courier Journal on Friday. “I am simply asking that the NCAA and all parties involved also fight for what is right, what is best for student-athletes and participating Division I institutions. I truly believe that now is the best time to revisit the rule that has been set. in place over 25 years ago.

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The Knights made national news in March when they won the ASUN Tournament Championshipjust two years after they moved from Division II to DI. The ASUN champion automatically receives an entry into the NCAA Tournament. But an outdated NCAA rule forbids programs from making such a leap. from participating in a college play for four years.

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Betz states in the letter that he answered numerous questions about why Bellarmine didn’t qualify for the tournament — Knights completely abandoned the postseasonand also – and it frustrates him that he doesn’t have a clear answer for the fans.

“Why couldn’t you all play in the NCAA Tournament? You deserve it,” he wrote. “Does the NCAA have a reason why nothing can change?” There were hundreds of similar interactions and questions that I have yet to formulate a precise answer to.”

He also acknowledged that the team was aware of the rule and the accompanying transition, but pointed to conference and league oversight, and Bellarmine’s performance since the promotion to Division I, as evidence that the current circumstances were making the rule obsolete.

“Can’t we agree that the times have changed?” Betz wrote. “Bellarmine University has been invited by ASUN to join the conference and is governed by said conference. We are also under the control of the NCAA transition agency, which evaluates our progress and performance, and we have exceeded all criteria that were set in our transition, especially academic excellence.”

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Betz said he grew up in a family of two University of Louisville alumni, and how watching some of his favorite players like Francisco Garcia and Taiquan Ding inspired him to become a college basketball player. The first game he went to as a child was at Freedom Hall.

“I’m standing in Freedom Hall again,” Betz wrote, describing the ASUN Tag Team Championship. “Only this time I’m in the middle of the court. I remember looking at my old seat in section 329, as close to the rafters as possible. what to play for: conference tournament championship.

The feeling of Sunday’s selection when the commentators were talking about Elimination of Bellarmine from the tournament it hurt, he said.

“We were afraid of the mundane sound of ‘Bellarmine is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament,'” Betz wrote. “It was a punch in the gut for which we had no reason.”

Betz thought that using the letter to address the NCAA could humanize the team’s message and show how the rule affects players in real time.

Juston Betz of Bellarmine (1) slipped past the Jacksonville defense due to a layup during an ASUN Championship game in Louisville, Kentucky on March 8, 2022.  Bellarmine won 77–72.
Juston Betz of Bellarmine (1) slipped past the Jacksonville defense due to a layup during an ASUN Championship game in Louisville, Kentucky on March 8, 2022. Bellarmine won 77–72.

“Coach (Scott Davenport) and I talked, and we came to the conclusion that it would be good for the NCAA to hear the opinion of the student-athlete,” Betz told The Courier Journal. “Sometimes they don’t necessarily know how their decisions affect us. I thought it would be more persuasive to speak from my point of view and express how not playing in the NCAA Tournament affects not only me but also my teammates.”

Bellarmine has filed an NCAA waiver and the board of directors has until Aug. 3 to decide if the Knights will be eligible for the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Betz hopes his letter will strike an emotional chord with decision makers and encourage them to reconsider what the team sees as an outdated rule.

“The goal of any child playing Division I basketball is to play March Madness,” he said. “Last year we made a historic breakthrough and were not rewarded accordingly for our success. I would like them to take another look at this and reconsider their original reasoning for the rule.”

If the NCAA does not lift its requirements, Bellarmine will have a two-year transition period before they can become eligible for the tournament.

“These players deserve it,” Davenport said, adding that attempts to appeal to have the rule overturned or repealed consumed him. “Every night I lay my head down and I hope and dream about what is happening because of young people. These are the four greatest years of these student-athletes’ lives. It’s about the players.”

Contact Jonathan Saxon at [email protected] or 502-715-1393 and follow him on Twitter at @TheSleepyScribe.

This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal: Juston Betz of Bellarmine writes letter to NCAA calling for rule change


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