Syracuse football earlier this year picked up offensive lineman Chris Bleich, and the NCAA needs to grant him immediate eligibility – now.
Chris Bleich, an excellent offensive lineman who transferred from Florida out of the Southeastern Conference to Syracuse football, enrolled at SU in January of 2020, according to his bio on the ‘Cuse athletics department Web site.
The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Bleich, a three-star prospect in high school who hails from Hanover Township, Pa., wrote on his Twitter page in mid-April that he was sending in his “final transfer form.” Since he’s not a graduate transfer, Bleich has to sit out one season with the Orange unless he is granted a waiver for immediate eligibility.
According to various media reports, Bleich is hoping for a waiver so that he may immediately compete. In fact, Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com wrote in an article earlier this year that Bleich is “seeking immediate eligibility from the NCAA via a waiver based partially on family hardship. Bleich also shared in his commitment announcement that he ‘didn’t have a choice’ but to play through injuries at UF – something that could also be a factor in his waiver.”
Based on all of this context, it seems that Bleich has yet to hear back from the NCAA after filing for a waiver several months ago. I totally acknowledge that NCAA officials have a lot on their plate right now amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But the fact that Bleich is still waiting appears absolutely ludicrous to me.
Not only does the NCAA need to rule on his waiver request ASAP, but it also needs to grant him said waiver so that he can suit up for Syracuse football during the 2020 stanza. Why do I say this?
Well, as CuseNation.com’s Mike McAllister recently pointed out in an excellent story, other college football players of late have received decisions back on their waiver requests in way shorter time spans than Bleich. It simply isn’t right what the NCAA is doing to this young man.
McAllister accurately notes that circumstances can vary from case to case related to these waiver requests. And of course the pandemic is making things more challenging on many fronts in collegiate athletics.
However, McAllister writes in his piece that it’s possible favoritism may exist when these cases “involve blue blood type programs. The other factor that should not be ignored is [the] response from the school a player is transferring from. In Bleich’s situation, that would be Florida. The more helpful they are with the NCAA waiver process, including stating they support immediate eligibility, the more likely a player is to be granted such in an expeditious way.”
I get it. The Orange is not a top-flight football brand these days. Frankly, that shouldn’t matter. From what I can tell, and I don’t know the ins and outs of Bleich’s situation, but he deserves a waiver. The NCAA is an incompetent organization, and Bleich – a redshirt sophomore who is primed for a stellar Syracuse football career – is unfortunately paying for it.