The Bellarmine Knights basketball team won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in March, defeating Jacksonville University.
Normally, this would have meant an automatic bid for the Knights to play in the NCAA Tournament – winners of 32 conference tournaments automatically get a seed in The Big Dance – but an NCAA rule prohibited Bellarmine from the opportunity.
Due to the fact that Bellarmine moved from Division II to Division I in 2020, they have to wait four years in order to be eligible for postseason play, meaning that Jacksonville State – winners of the ASUN regular season – was given the automatic bid.
Now, senior guard Juston Betz is appealing to the NCAA to change the rule, sharing an email he sent with The Courier Journal.
“There is no way that letting a new Division 1 team play in the NCAA Tournament has any negative effect on the NCAA or your bottom line,” Betz wrote. “I just can’t seem to wrap my head around what rationale suffices the continuation of the rule. So, again, I just ask that you please open your eyes and see that change can be a good thing. When we change, we progress.”
Betz then offering to sit down and discuss how the rule, which kept him out of the NCAA tournament, impacted him and his teammates.
“That feeling on selection Sunday was one that I never want another student-athlete to feel again, and I hope that each of you feel the same way,” Betz wrote. “The NCAA simply would not exist without college athletes. Don’t get me wrong, I am appreciative that we have an organization that puts college athletics on a pedestal and prepares us for the future. I’m thankful for so many things that the NCAA does to make our experiences memorable and fun.”
“I just ask that you put yourself in our shoes when you make decisions that directly impact our lives. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating a rule that was implemented in a previous century, and I’d be more than happy to sit down and further express how decisions like this impact myself and my fellow student athletes.”
The Knights have filed a waiver with the NCAA with hopes of being granted eligibility for the 2023 NCAA Tournament.