(Special thanks to Bleacher Report for the video)
Tacko Fall is a 7-foot-6 freshman who maintained a 3.6 GPA through his last two years of high school. One of the most recruited seniors in the nation, Fall decided to sign with UCF to pursue a degree in engineering and to play center for the Knights. Unfortunately for Fall, the NCAA has decided to not accept a majority of his credits from high school. The issue is due to the fact that Fall attended a fairly new institution that has yet to be certified by the NCAA. Liberty Christian, which has been in existence for 25 years, has been placed under an extended evaluation status by the NCAA for a minimum of two full academic certification cycles.
The NCAA informed Central Florida on Friday that it will only accept 7 1/2 of his core courses. Because of this, Fall will be unable to practice with the team. Fall’s guardian for the past two years, Amanda Wettstein, spoke with ESPN early this week about the situation.
“Right now, the NCAA seems to be hiding behind his high school, Liberty Christian, not being certified. “They aren’t accepting chemistry, calculus and other courses in which he excelled. This slaps in the face of what they say, that they look at each individual circumstance.”
Fall is unlike many athletes in the NCAA. He grew up in Dakar, Senegal and arrived in the States prior to his junior year of high school. In a letter obtained by ESPN, Fall wrote to the NCAA about the struggle he faced and the sacrifices made in the past to pursue a college degree, and possibly a future in the NBA. Stating that he lived with his mother and younger brother in a one-bedroom apartment, often living off just one meal a day. Currently, Fall sends as much money possible from his cost of attendance stipend, often sacrificing his own well being in the process, back home so his younger brother can attend school–a luxury very few are given due to the cost.
While most student-athletes are adamant on making it to the next level, Fall is humbled by the experience. He sees his opportunity to play college basketball as a means to an end. You are immediately left speechless when listening to this young man talk about the future he wishes for himself.
“If I had the choice to be LeBron James or Steve Jobs, I’d choose Steve Jobs. Your athleticism will fade, but your knowledge will last forever.”
Such profound words from a person who has persevered through so much adversity and hardship in the past. His character, drive to succeed and intelligence should be coveted by the NCAA, instead of repressed with a futile academic hold. Education is one of the most squandered gifts amongst today’s youth within this country. Fall on the other hand, understands the opportunity bestowed upon him. He simply desires what was promised to him, a chance at a better life.