FML (F*%k Melo’s Life). Fab is NCAA Ineligible, Conspiracy Theories Abound

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Update 7:08p. CBS’ Seth Davis is reporting there is no connection between Fab’s suspension in January and this decision. I respect Davis’ work, but I don’t buy it. My educated guess is the NCAA has been crawling around the athletic department, and specifically this basketball program, since the Bernie Fine nonsense broke.

At the start of the second semester, potentially influenced by the NCAA’s attention, SU played it safe rather than sorry by suspending Fab. Thinking it had done enough and gotten his eligibility straightened out, the school reinstated him. As the season wore on, the NCAA continued to pick through the program. Recently, maybe last week, the NCAA must have alerted Syracuse there were serious questions surrounding Melo’s reinstatement.  Rather than risking a potentially vacated run through the tournament, SU decided to take no chances.

It’s possible Jim Boeheim and co. decided to play Fab down the stretch knowing his eligibility was always in question, hoping it would eventually get squared away after the season or simply take its lumps down the road. But that would mean the school took a huge risk with the NCAA in the wake of the Bernie Fine scandal, and that would be incredibly brazen. It seems unlikely Syracuse would take such a risk. -D.A.)

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Forty-seven words. All it took was 47 words to crush the spirit of Orange Nation everywhere. In a two-sentence memo, Syracuse declared Fab Melo ineligible for the entirety of the NCAA Tournament, and left us all wondering how this could happen… again. FML.

“Syracuse University sophomore men’s basketball center Fab Melo did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, and will not take part in the NCAA Tournament due to an eligibility issue. Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, no further details can be provided at this time.”

We need look no further than two years ago, when the top-seeded Orange was storming through the regular season, ready to make March its biznatch, and the floor suddenly dropped out. Arinze Onuaku ripped his knee in the Big East Tourney, and a formidable Syracuse team became pedestrian, losing to Butler in the Sweet 16.

The details are incredibly sketchy. What would deem Fab ineligible the eve of the NCAA’s? The Brazilian big man’s academic suspension earlier in the season hangs over this situation like a guillotine. Is it possible SU thought it was out of the woods getting his grades back in order and making him eligible, only to have the knot come undone over the last week? Maybe whatever sanding of the edges Syracuse did to Fab’s transcript over the winter became a target of investigation by either the NCAA or media outlets.

Yahoo! Sports reports of drug use and lackadaisical enforcement of positive tests may have popped a red flag on everything in the athletic department, especially the basketball program. Maybe SU got paranoid after Chuck and Pat began snooping around the program, looking for any gotcha story to plaster on Yahoo!’s front page. Could SU have gotten wind its finagling of Fab’s academic eligibility was getting the heat lamp treatment from a prying media outlet, and figured it had to cut bait with him before the story leaked?

As Charles Robinson said, “I think Pat Forde and myself began to dig into the culture of Syracuse, anything and everything that encompasses Syracuse basketball.” Which of course began because of the Bernie Fine scandal, which we all thought SU had left behind months ago. Argh.

Maybe Fab failed a drug test and Syracuse felt it had to suspend him in light of the report? Is it possible the university caught wind of an impermissible benefit that could compromise a run through March, and didn’t want to take the chance a Final Four banner could be vacated? When your left only to grasp at straws, nothing seems impossible.

Can Syracuse a national title without Fab? Probably not. He’s the most indispensable defensive player on the team, and a mammoth in the middle for any opponent to matchup against. Fab was the X factor. In the games without him, SU looked different, felt different, was different. Just like ’10, SU will be able to get into the second weekend of the tourney even without its center. But unfortunately, anything past the Sweet 16 will take a herculean effort from an Orange team we had stamped for the Final Four. Boeheim famously said, “Nothing bothers us” last week after beating UConn at MSG. That will be severely tested starting Thursday.

Posted: D.A.

 


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  1. Shawn says:

    We need to breathe deeply, meditate, life will go on.

    God, even though Nerlens recruitment is shady, were gonna need him next year

  2. Dr Bill says:

    Unbelievable: Name a school that this happens to?..a big time basketball school?…None…Kids may not graduate…but they are eligible to play ball during the season. I just do not know what to say. Very sad. We had the makings of a final four team…..now, we are very vulnerable…..

  3. Rich K says:

    What’s going on with this program? The best you can say is that it’s out of control (seemingly they don’t care about anything besides b ball). Where is an institution dedicated to higher education and integrity? What a disappointment to the alumni. Of course I may be wrong but that is what I have been told each time something else has hit the fan this year.

  4. BostonJay says:

    It’s just unbelievable that twice in a span of 3 years we would have our best regular seasons in a storied program’s history only to enter the tournament sans our star big man. It’s a cruel fate to Cuse fans everywhere that we don’t get to see how the seasons would have played out full strength.

  5. TheWiard says:

    Well said BostonJay, well said. A bitter pill to swallow.

  6. Kevin says:

    Well thanks to su’s draw I would find it impossible for su not at least make it to elite 8 or final four , there depending on who they are playing could give them trouble. Without out melo this team is much faster and su could possibly face vandy or OSu who are crazy to prone when u speed them up n tos are su’s bread n butter. Sure kstate is a good oreb team but su already beat a better one in wvu without melo. Xmas will be key and he is a much superior talent then Riley, fair was already the main inside offensive presence so all Xmas needs to do is reb block shots and catch lobs which he know how to do. Despite what people say su has an easy bracket so I’d honestly be shocked to not see su in elite 8 or final four, winning it all might be more difficult now tho

  7. chris says:

    I agree that the school iwas influenced by the NCAA eagles around the program and want to avoid any thought or accusations of favoring a player through the tournament. Whether it includes wanting to recruit another player at Fab’s position is at this time irrelevant. It remains that way up to and including that player ever coming to Syracuse regardless of the company he keeps. I and every other Orangemen fan wants Noel in the Dome wearing orange.

  8. Al Speach says:

    I put this ALL on the AD. SU has a compliance dept. that should have been all over this issue. There is no way an athlete – especially in a revenue sport – should have any type of individual academic issue. Clearly with Fab’s cultural background there would be academic hurdles that should have been anticipated. At UK he would have had availability of a tutor 24/7 and someone keeping in contact with his professors. Bernie Fine aside, this sends a terrible message to parents who might be considering SU as a place to entrust their child’s scholastic and athletic fortunes. Fab goes from a likely lottery pick to Brazil ball. All because a megamillion dollar basketball program doesn’t hire a flunky to keep tabs ion their athlete’s academics.

  9. Carlton says:

    Y couldnt they get this hashed out bettween now an the sweet 16/elite 8? Y did seth davis an everyone on the halftime show say this was a school thing not a NCAA thing? Dana O’neil said this was the same issue from before? WTF is goin on? It just said the samthing they said at halftime on the bottem line of the wku/miss game. Im lost.

  10. Carlton says:

    AL google 500,000$ cash/ A.davis an ull see how uk rolls.

  11. BostonJay says:

    The Fizz Cast and many SU fans are way more optimistic about the team’s chances sans Fab than I am. UNC Asheville is a tourney tested team who pushed Pitt for a while last year in their 1-16 game. They played NC State, UNC, Tennessee, and UConn (Calhoun was impressed w/how hard they played) tough this year. If they avoid the infamy of losing that game I see K-State pummeling the Orange as they’ll be getting putback after putback. That was going to be a tough game even with a full strength lineup. Heck they swept #2 seed Mizzou this year.

  12. Theocuse says:

    Ya know, its very unfair to assume that RAK cannot play and is NOT important to this team. RAk is a good player and can be a great center!! He reminds me of Conrad Mccrea – is athletic and long. We will not miss Fab, 7 pts a game with 5 rebounds? COme on, really? Is that really something we will miss? This team has a ton of other players that can play -

  13. Carlton says:

    Now that ive clamed down I still think that this team will go as our SR’s go. I dont think that changes. 1+ is waiters was slumpin bad last time fab went out this time hes coming off his best game of the season. We got 5 good guards I still like to see us press press press. One thing I had a problem /w ur fizz cast is u all made sully from osu sound like a 7 foot monster. Lets not forget hes like 6’8 or 6’9. Hes good but its not like we couldnt match up. Also D.A. Fsu turns the ball over 15x a game to think we cant beat them is crazy. Vandy has a good team but are guards are better an lets not forget if they do win they gotta travel like 3,000 miles from tn to new mex back east to bosten an prepare for our press/zone that they havent seen this yr. An they are a jump shootin team what kind of legs do u think they are gonna have? Id say tired. This team has strong leadership an has the media tell them all yr they would fail. Lets not forget they are 32-2 an that we still have home court over all these other teams. I still think we can make thw final 4 in 96 we did /w less. I hope this team is hearing ppl like digger an everyother blow hard talk about fsu, vandy and osu winning the east. Play angery boys play angery.

  14. D.A. says:

    I’m definitely worried like you guys about what this means in the tourney. I have to change my prediction of Final Four to out before they can make it NO. Too bad – this team was so great to watch this season. But I just dont see how they overcome losing such a critical piece vs. the best teams in the nation.

  15. Terry says:

    When is the spring FB game. Not a big fan of HCDM, but so far he has no scares like JB has with his program!!!

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