A decorated Army veteran has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and, barring a successful appeal, will not be allowed to compete during the 2016-17 season.
Oakland's Isaiah Brock, who received an Army Commendation Medal and other honors for his services as a mortuary affairs specialist in Afghanistan, is allowed to practice with the team and receive financial aid, but he cannot participate in games, per school spokesman Scott MacDonald. Brock's duties entailed the removal of fallen soldiers from the battlefields in the Middle East.
The Detroit Free Press first reported the NCAA's denial of Oakland's request to grant the 6-foot-8 Brock immediate eligibility for the upcoming season.
"It was definitely kind of devastating," Brock told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
The school received notice of the denial on Friday, and it will soon appeal, per MacDonald.
"We have not filed an appeal yet," MacDonald said Wednesday. "We are working on putting it together. We obviously want to get this done as quickly as possible."
Brock took two online classes while deployed in Afghanistan in 2013. He received an A and B in those courses, he said. He earned two B's in the summer courses he took at Oakland. Brock, who met Oakland coach Greg Kampe during a Troops First event in Kuwait, was not an academic qualifier out of high school.
As part of the school's waiver request, Brock wrote a letter explaining to the NCAA that he did not take his academics as seriously as he should have in high school but cited his military experience as a catalyst for his growth.
"I told them that I was immature in high school and needed to develop as a man and that the Army changed me," said Brock, who was discharged in April.
The NCAA's ruling is based on his transcripts from 2011, the year he graduated from Forest Park High School in Baltimore. After high school, he entered the Army, during which he retrieved the bodies of fallen soldiers, performed autopsies and prepared those men and women for their trips home to their families.
Brock was among the men and women who would iron American flags and drape them over the caskets of fallen soldiers who were then transported back to the United States by air. Brock told ESPN.com he participated in transfer ceremonies for nearly 40 fallen soldiers during his two tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait (2015).
He said he respects the NCAA's rules and regulations but believes his recent academic efforts prove he can handle college coursework and his athletic responsibilities.
"I understand that they have to follow the guidelines," Brock said. "But I'm definitely capable."