Opinion: Jose Perez Should Be Allowed To Play

Cover Photo: WVU Athletics

Jose Perez was an absolute powerhouse at Manhattan, where he was chosen as the preseason Player of the Year in the MAAC. He averaged 18.9 points, 4.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds last season, so it was expected that he would be a major player at WVU. Once he transferred to WVU, he was denied eligibility. After his waiver was denied on December 16, they appealed the decision. However, only 90 minutes before the Mountaineers took on Baylor in Morgantown, the NCAA denied Perez’s appeal.

The NCAA has been trying to cut down on student-athletes transferring multiple times. According to their new criteria approved yesterday, the NCAA states, “The Council voted unanimously to update guidelines for the waiver process for undergraduate student-athletes who are transferring for a second time…Each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but moving forward, student-athletes must meet one of the following criteria to be granted a waiver to compete immediately.”

      • A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the students support system will be considered) or
      • Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athletes’ immediate departure from the previous school (e.g. physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athletes athletics participation.

Perez has done everything asked of him. He did not practice with the team until the fall semester was over and he enrolled for the spring semester back in November. WVU didn’t cheat in any way to help prepare Perez for his season. They also didn’t cheat their way to a waiver approval either. Yet, both Jose Perez and his team are hurting.

Perez also revealed the terrible circumstances surrounding how Manhattan College dealt with the transfer process. It is now clear that they tried to keep Perez and his teammates from leaving the team. Manhattan fired head coach Steve Masiello with less than two weeks before the first game of the season. The college did this because they believed that the player wouldn’t want to leave just days before the start of the season. They knew that if they had fired him any earlier, a large number of player would have entered the portal. Perez left because Masiello was more than a coach; he was a father figure.

Even in recent WVU history, several athletes have played with three or four different schools. JT Daniels started his career at USC, then went to Georgia, then WVU, and now Rice. Erik Stevenson started at Wichita State, then Washington, then South Carolina, and is finishing his collegiate career at WVU.

Perez is eligible to play for the Mountaineers in the 2023-2024 season, but there’s no guarantee that he will stay that long. His plan was to play this season, then move on from college. This means that it would be very hard to keep him around for another year, when he would be a sixth-year senior. The NCAA has used this situation to make an example out of both Perez and WVU’s entire basketball program.