The NCAA's decision to strip USF freshman F Alexis Yetna of a full year of eligibility prompted a passionate seven-minute monologue from Bulls coach Brian Gregory following Monday night's win against Northern Arizona.
"I'm highly disappointed," Gregory said following his team's 70-56 triumph. "The big push nowadays is student-welfare. And as I thought of this case, this isn't well or fair when it comes to Alexis Yetna."
The NCAA ruled Yetna's previous competition at a prep school (Connecticut's Putnam Science Academy), during the second year following his high school graduation in France, requires him to sit out the entire 2017-18 season and lose that year of eligibility.
The NCAA generally allows students one year after they graduate from high school to enroll in college. If they don't enroll during that year, they may continue competing in their sport, but must stop at the conclusion of the year to preserve their collegiate eligibility.
But Yetna — who finished his first semester at USF with a 3.5 GPA — graduated from high school in France in three years instead of four.
"So they thought the second year in the United States would be his postgraduate year, which you're allowed according to the (NCAA) rules," Gregory said. "Unfortunately, the thing that he's been knocked on is, it's considered delayed enrollment because it's actually two years now after his high school graduation."
Gregory explained Yetna, 20, attended a different U.S. prep school upon his high school graduation, but returned to France soon thereafter when "promises that were told were not delivered there." Putnam Science Academy later contacted him and ultimately "did a great job for him," Gregory said.
Yetna, a 6-foot-8 forward, helped guide Putnam to a 34-win season last winter.
"(Putnam) made the mistake. They've admitted it, they feel bad about it," Gregory added.
"They said they would've advised him differently, but it was no fault of his own at all. He's a full academic qualifier. Not one class that he took in the United States was used for him to be a qualifier. … He did not use one core course from any of the schools here. And he did it in three years."
Though the NCAA has denied USF's initial appeal of the ruling, Gregory said the school will continue fighting.
"Here's the thing that bothers me: If you say, 'Hey, you've got to sit out,' fine. But you can't take a year of eligibility away from him too," Gregory said. "We're in this for the student-athletes? No, we're not. Not in this case, and not in other cases that you've seen."