In a message to Kansas State fans posted on the athletic department web site Wednesday evening, athletic director John Currie addressed the decision he made to hold Jamar Samuels out of the Wildcats’ season-ending loss to Syracuse on Saturday in the third-round of the NCAA Tournament because of an eligibility issue.
Noting the serious repercussions a school can face for knowingly playing an ineligible player, he said K-State had no choice but to withhold Samuels, a senior forward, from the game.
“We can’t decide on our own which rules we want to follow and which ones we don’t,” Currie wrote in the letter, “nor would we want to participate in an organization where members have such latitude.”
Still, it was not a decision he wanted to make.
“I wish with all my heart that Jamar could have played Saturday,” Currie wrote.
Currie’s message does not give specific information about the rules violation.
Sources said Samuels’ eligibility came into question after he received a $200 wire transfer from Curtis Malone, the organizer of the DC Assault AAU basketball program Samuels once played for. It is against NCAA rules for a student-athlete to accept benefits from anyone other than a family member or long-time friend.
Samuels received the wire transfer on Monday in Manhattan before leaving for the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, according to a source. Malone told news outlets the money was for food, and that he didn’t think he was committing a violation because of his long-standing relationship with Samuels.
K-State basketball coach Frank Martin was also skeptical.
“Jamar, in my opinion, has done nothing wrong,” Martin said after Saturday’s game. “But the school has to protect its integrity. I wasn’t part of the decision.”
Currie said K-State became aware of the eligibility concern on Fridayand consulted with NCAA staff.
“It was determined that a violation had occurred,” Currie wrote, “thus rendering Jamar ineligible to compete. During the first half we learned that Jamar would not be reinstated. We would have continued the reinstatement effort had we won the game and proceeded to the next round.”
Syracuse defeated K-State 75-59.
“We’ll do it with integrity and within the rules,” Currie said. “It’s the only way.”