NCAA reverses ruling, restores Harries’ eligibility

Nathan Harries, the former Centennial High basketball player who was stripped of one season of eligibility at Colgate for playing three games in a summer church league, has had that season restored by the NCAA.

The NCAA reversed its Oct. 21 decision to reject Colgate’s request for a waiver on the grounds that the league is recreational, comprised of players in their 30s and up, and therefore should not be considered a highly competitive league.

NCAA staff allowed the waiver Thursday, so Colgate won’t go through an appeals process. The decision came less than 48 hours after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported Harries’ story.

“It’s kind of a relief,” Harries said by phone after arriving in North Carolina for Colgate’s season opener against Wake Forest on Friday night. “My first reaction when this happened was kind of surprise. I wasn’t aware of the NCAA’s rule about the late enrollment, and I didn’t realize they would consider the league competitive. But I guess rules are rules.

“Colgate said they would appeal, and it was something I just tried not to focus on. I tried to have a bright outlook.”

NCAA spokesman Chris Radford said Harries “has been granted four full years of eligibility.”

Michael Harries, Nathan’s father, said, “I’m thankful the NCAA looked at this for what it is.”

The NCAA similarly reversed course and granted a waiver in August to Middle Tennessee football player Steven Rhodes, who was declared ineligible for playing in an intramural league while serving five years in the Marines.

Harries put off college and basketball for two years so that he could serve a two-year Mormon mission in North Carolina. He returned to Atlanta in June. In July, a family friend asked Harries if he could fill-in on his “C” level basketball team that played games at Dunwoody Baptist Church. Hoping to get back in basketball shape, Harries jumped at the chance.

The NCAA emailed a query to Harries asking if he had played in any leagues during his two-year absence, and he answered truthfully, never imagining it would be an issue.