NCAA to let Army vet Isaiah Brock compete

Appeal accepted, 22-year-old can play


Nowshin Chowdhury

Oakland University Athletics announced on Monday, Oct. 17 that the NCAA reconsidered Isaiah Brock to be eligible to play for the Golden Grizzlies this season.

After national media attention had sparked up because of the NCAA’s rejection of Army veteran Isaiah Brock’s waiver to compete for men’s basketball, the NCAA has approved the university’s appeal to let the 22-year-old, 6-foot-8 freshman forward play.

“We’re appreciative of the NCAA initially awarding Isaiah with the ability to receive athletics financial assistance in addition to eligibility for practice,” Athletic Director Jeff Konya said in a press release from Oakland University Athletics. “And we are even more thankful that the reconsideration has resulted in this decision for Isaiah.”

Oakland initially had requested that the NCAA grant the Baltimore native athletic financial assistance, permission to practice and permission to compete. The first two were granted. The third request was rejected because of unacceptable high school grades on a transcript from 2011.

Brock had already completed four college classes, passing each with either a B or an A. Bleacher Report, CBS Sports and ESPN covered the story. Even U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) got involved, voicing his support for Brock and asking that the NCAA let him play.

On Monday, Oct. 17, the NCAA announced their decision to approve the appeal. 

“Definitely the news I wanted to hear,” Brock said. “Very excited.”

Throughout this ordeal, Brock has been calling his mother every evening and keeping her up-to-date. Yesterday, she called him.

“She’s screaming and yelling,” Brock said. “She was very happy.”

After his story broke nationally two weeks ago, people started recognizing him on campus.

“In my classes: ‘Hey, you were the guy that was on TV!’” Brock said. “‘Hey man I hope they let you play.’ And I’ll say ‘Thank you, thanks for the support, I appreciate it.'”

Even the cashier at Chick-fil-A gave him some encouraging words.

“I think [the media coverage] played a great part in them overturning the decision,” Brock said.

But he thinks the reversal was genuine.

“He deserves the opportunity,” Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said. “We got the answer that we felt we should get.”

Kampe doesn’t think the media coverage is the reason for the NCAA’s acceptance of the appeal, but does think it brought the issue to the attention of more people.

“I think they changed their opinion because the proper people got a good look at it,” Kampe said.

That’s not the only thing the coverage did. Kampe has received two or three phone calls from parents or sibling of young men getting out of the military with a similar predicament to Brock’s: They’ve learned from their service, but poor high school grades are holding back their college careers.

“This brought media attention to the veterans and what we should be doing for our veterans,” Kampe said. “Hopefully . . . other people are seeing this and thinking, ‘Yeah, we need to give these veterans a chance.’”

Brock spent part of Tuesday afternoon in an interview for Oakland Basketball All-Access, a university-sponsored program that airs on Fox Sports Detroit.

“As we keep learning more and more about his story, it becomes even more compelling,” Konya said on Tuesday.

He thinks the NCAA granted the appeal because they thought it was right.

“I’ve had a few different cases that have went through reconsiderations . . . where as more information was learned, the NCAA felt more comfortable with the case,” Konya said. “I would tend to believe that the facts of the case and our arguments thereof won the day as opposed to quote-unquote any kind of media pressure that they may have felt. I think the NCAA’s a very principled organization, and I don’t think that they necessarily are going to sway to public opinion.”

Overall, he’s pleased with the NCAA’s appeal process.

“I think we got to the right result,” Konya said. “If we had to work at it, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Isaiah Brock is eligible for financial aid, practice and competition, at the end of the day. We believe that’s a just result, and we were going to fight for Isaiah so that we would not leave any stone unturned. We’re glad that the NCAA agreed with us.”