Knight ineligible till next semester

From Andre Williams' story in the Morning Call on Lehigh's win at Stony Brook:
(Joe) Knight, the Mountain Hawks' top returning scorer, was officially ruled ineligible on Monday by the NCAA until after the fall semester, Lehigh announced in a release following a 58-54 non-league victory over Stony Brook Tuesday night at Stabler Arena.
Knight's return to the court might help fix what ails Lehigh's basketball team, but can anything restore the damage Lehigh's athletic department has done to its credibility?

Forget for a moment the obvious question of what Knight was doing in a Lehigh uniform in the first place and focus on how the matter has been handled by the school. First there was silence. Then a report that Knight was injured. Now, finally, the truth, at least as far as why Knight is out.

But the truth about how Knight came to be at Lehigh in the first place is yet to be discovered.

For those not up to speed on the saga of Juco Joe, here's some background, courtesy Williams' story:
Knight played his first two seasons at High Point University in North Carolina 2001-03, then spent a year focusing strictly on academics at Tarrant Community College in Arlington, Texas, before transferring to Lehigh.
Williams doesn't mention that Knight didn't leave High Point because he didn't like the cafeteria food. He left because of academic problems.

Why a kid from Tennessee chose a community college in Texas, we do not know. The Tarrant Web site mentions internet and distance learning programs; could that be how Knight matriculated?

Whether he was on campus or on the Web, it really makes little difference. The bottom line is Knight went from being in academic trouble at Furniture U., which is not known as the Harvard of the South, to a community college in Texas to Lehigh, which is allegedly one of the top academic institutions in the nation.

In fairness to Knight, we don't know the kid. Maybe he scored 1600 on his boards and chose High Point for the climate, for all we know. Maybe he really does fit the Lehigh scholar-athlete mold. We are all for giving people a chance to redeem themselves after a mistake, so if Knight did not take college seriously his first two years, we believe he deserves a second chance.

We are not so sure that chance should come in the Patriot League, a league that, according to its Web site, "was founded on the principles of admitting athletes who are academically representative of their class."

Maybe there are a lot of Lehigh students who couldn't cut it academically at lesser schools, went to community college and then went on to Lehigh. Maybe that stuff happens all the time.

Maybe Army will win 20 games this season, too.

The problem with the Knight situation is that it gives ammunition to all the scholarship naysayers who worried the schools would sell their academic soul to the basketball devil.

You can bet there's more than a few folks in Easton pointing their fingers at Lehigh and arguing the Mountain Hawks went down to the crossroads and cut a deal.

It hurts the whole league's reputation. After years of the league's presidents being able to go to NCAA meetings to argue that you can do things right. Now they risk seeming self-righteous.

It hurts the image of a Bucknell team, that has made news for being an academic school that does things right in the classroom and on the court. Ditto for the rest of the league's teams. It hurts the image of Lehigh's other players, who will be viewed with skepticism since, after all, if you would do it for one guy to win, why wouldn't you for others?

The league owes it to its student athletes, its schools and its fans to conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the entire situation. Not just the credits in question, but the bigger question of how Knight came to be a Mountain Hawk.

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