Morgan women ruled ineligible for tourney

March 08, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

In what school athletic director Kenneth McBryde called "an unfortunate mistake," the Morgan State women's basketball team was declared ineligible for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, which starts Thursday at Morgan, for having played one too many regular-season games.

Under NCAA rules, basketball teams are limited to 27 games, including tournament contests, which count as a single game no matter how far a team advances. Morgan had played 27 games due to a scheduling oversight.

"It was a potential scheduling problem I made our people aware of in August, long before the season began, and it should have been corrected," said McBryde.

"But I have to take the weight of the blame because I'm the athletic director."

Though he did not pinpoint an individual, McBryde had apparently advised coach Andrew Powell that he should cancel the Dec. 4 game with St. Peter's.

But the nonconference game was played, and when the Bears concluded conference play last week against Howard, they had violated NCAA bylaw 17.3.5.1 as to the maximum number of games allowed in Division I competition. Preseason tournament games do not count.

"It's kind of odd," said Steve Mallonee, NCAA director of legislative services, "but we've had three or four institutions involved with the same over-scheduling problem this season."

Mallonee couldn't recall the other colleges or whether they corrected the problem in time to remain eligible.

Morgan (4-12) would have opened the tournament against Maryland-Eastern Shore (3-13) at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, with the winner advancing to play regular-season champion South Carolina State (15-1), afforded a first-round bye. But the Bulldogs will play UMES in one of four opening-round games Thursday.

"It's really unfortunate for our players," said McBryde, "especially

with an opportunity to play before their home fans. These things happen. We had a chance to fix it, but it just didn't get done."

Powell could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Larry Barber, assistant MEAC commissioner, said the league office was aware of Morgan's potential problem several weeks ago.

"When we first got Morgan's schedule, the St. Peter's game was not included," said Barber. "They still could have remained eligible by dropping their final game with Howard, but it's difficult to cancel conference games that late in the year."

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