NCAA Reverses Field for Student-Athlete


On February 28th the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) granted the request for Waiver of Legislation submitted by St. John’s University basketball player Orlando Sanchez thus allowing Sanchez eligibility for next season. Sanchez was represented by former NC Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr of Poyner Spruill LLP of Raleigh, NC. The Sanchez appeal process had dragged on for over 6 months and his request for the Waiver had been denied twice by NCAA staff and once by the reviewing subcommittee prior to Orr being retained at the end of January. The case received national attention by the media including Steve Eder of the New York Times and Dana O’Neill of ESPN.

The case involved the NCAA Bylaw penalizing players who engage in athletic competition after turning 21 but before enrolling in college. Sanchez, who is from an impoverished family in the Dominican Republic, was forced to quit high school and move to Spain to work as a carpenter in order to help provide the basic necessities for his grandmother, with whom he had lived for most of his life. Upon returning 4 years later and turning 21, Sanchez finished high school and subsequently enrolled at Monroe Junior College where he played basketball for two years. Since Sanchez had played 8 games for a Dominican Club team during his senior year in high school and then in one game for a little over 3 minutes for the Dominican National Team prior to going to Monroe, the NCAA Bylaw penalized him two years of college eligibility, thus preventing him from competing at St. John’s absent the Waiver.

Orr submitted new evidence and reframed the argument in presenting it to the NCAA for one last reconsideration. The victory marks the third consecutive time that Orr has successfully represented college athletes whose eligibility had either been revoked or denied by the NCAA. His first case involved UNC football player Devon Ramsay, and late last year he successfully represented star UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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