NCAA needs to step up for Markowitz

Over the course of the next two weeks, NCAA president Mark Emmert will likely be attending several bowl games and corporate events leading up to the Discover BCS Championship Game.

For Abe Markowitz’s sake, let’s hope Emmert finds time to devote a few minutes to helping a student-athlete who needs assistance unsnarling the NCAA’s web of bureaucracy.

Markowitz is finishing up his fifth season at USC this week while playing in the Sun Bowl but wants to apply for a sixth year of eligibility, in part to continue his football career but also to complete his master’s degree in education. His main problem, however, is that USC cannot apply for a sixth year for Markowitz due to issues that would arise due to NCAA sanctions, the APR and early entry waiver rules.

This unique situation puts Markowitz in a bind at a time when he needs to make serious decisions about his future. USC has released him to other schools but, with no guarantee that he will have a sixth year of eligibility, will another school make an application for a sixth year while Markowitz is currently on scholarship at USC?

It’s a Catch-22 situation, and with spring semesters starting soon at the schools in question, it means time is of the essence -- and so far Markowitz hasn’t received much help in sorting through the red tape.

For an organization such as the NCAA that is supposed to be there for the student-athlete, the Markowitz case offers a clear opportunity to step up and do the right thing.

This is a young man who turned down scholarships at other schools in order to walk-on at USC. After eventually earning a scholarship, Markowitz subsequently suffered two separate foot injuries which basically cost him two seasons on the field. He came back this year to become a co-starter along the offensive line but, of what should be of greater importance to the NCAA, he also completed his first semester of graduate work this fall after receiving his undergrad degree last May.

As anyone who has ever tried to navigate through a bureaucracy knows, it can be a frustrating process, and Barry Markowitz, Abe’s father, has taken the step of appealing to Emmert directly in an effort to help expedite the process. It remains to be seen if a father’s plea will be heard or if the NCAA folks will be too busy over the next few weeks to pay attention.

Whether it is at USC or another school, it seems reasonable that Markowitz should be given the opportunity to play another season of football and ultimately get his graduate degree. If it is at USC, there is an added bonus, as USC's season opener next season will be at Hawaii -- Markowitz's home state.

Hopefully with the New Year coming up, Markowitz will get a chance to see his wish come true.

Read Barry Markowitz's letter to Mark Emmert here.