Orlando Sanchez, St. John's make one last appeal to NCAA

USA TODAY Sports

Steve Lavin knows how good Sanchez can be, and how extending resources to fight for the forward's eligibility is more than worth it.

Orlando Sanchez is making one final push.

Sanchez was deemed ineligible to play for St. John's this season by the NCAA due to the 6-foot-9 forward's violation of the association's 21st birthday rule. When Sanchez entered a 2010 game for the Dominican Republic national team, he relinquished the year of eligibility that he and St. John's believed he would have used this season with the Red Storm.

According to Lenn Robbins of the New York Post, he and St. John's sent new documentation to the NCAA on Monday, with help from Sanchez' attorney Robert Orr, in which the appealing party wishes to illuminate the financial hardships Sanchez faced while having to move to Spain to support his grandmother.

When Sanchez played just three minutes and thirty-eight seconds with the national team, he violated a rule stating that if an athlete who has surpassed his/her 21st birthday and not yet enrolled in college participates in organized competitive basketball, he/she automatically loses a year of eligibility.

"It's three minutes and thirty-eight seconds. It's nothing. Three minutes and thirty-eight seconds to represent my country. It's not making sense to me," Sanchez told the media on Tuesday. "I can only wait for them to decide if I can play or not. What I can do is try to stay focused, study, and practice a little bit. I can do nothing more."

Eight games played earlier with a club team back home in the Dominican Republic and two years at Monroe College before coming to St. John's make up the remaining three years of eligibility that were once available to Sanchez. He also spent time playing while in Spain, yet there is no indication that it had any bearing on his eligibility or the NCAA's decision process.

The case of Orlando Sanchez is now coming to national attention. ESPN analyst (and known NCAA opponent) Jay Bilas tweeted about the situation on Saturday, and ESPN columnist Dana O'Neil wrote on Sanchez earlier on Tuesday.

"When they said that I can't play, I almost went back to the Dominican Republic," Sanchez continued "Then Coach Lavin started talking with me and said it's better if I stay here. We can do something about my case."

Robbins' report mentions that Sanchez would have the opportunity to make another appeal before an NCAA subcommittee if the NCAA denies the desired waiver of the now-old 21st birthday rule. If none of it works, Sanchez and St. John's could take the case to court.

"You never know what will happen in the future," Sanchez said. "But I think we can do something great - something great for the team, something great for St. John's."

Note: Special thanks to Kieran Lynch of The Torch for Orlando Sanchez quotes.

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