Unless there’s a successful appeal, Troy native Elijah Burns won’t be playing for the Siena men’s basketball team this season.
Siena announced this morning the NCAA denied Burns’ request for a waiver that would make him eligible to play right away after transferring from Notre Dame in December.
But the NCAA wasn’t willing to make an exception to rule 18.104.22.168 in its manual, which states a student-athlete can’t compete for two teams in the same academic year. Burns, a 6-foot-8, 238-pound forward, played in four games for the Fighting Irish this season.
Siena argued Burns was a special case because he’s a graduate transfer who completed his bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame at midseason.
He’ll continue practicing with the Saints and will be fully eligible next season with one year of competition remaining. Siena is appealing the NCAA’s ruling with no official timetable on a final decision.
Photo: Paul Buckowski, Albany Times Union
“Obviously disappointed,” Burns said before practice this morning. “I wanted to have the opportunity to play this year, but it’s just not what was decided.”
Burns said the NCAA’s ruling didn’t make him regret his decision to transfer.
“I’m excited to be here,” he said. “I come to practice every day and try to get better and work on my game individually and help this team win some games.”
Burns said he was expecting the worst because of a lack of precedent for playing with two different programs in the same year.
“Obviously, I was hoping to be able to play,” Burns said. “I wasn’t really surprised. I figured that this was going to be the decision.”
Siena head coach Jamion Christian was clear he felt the NCAA made a mistake.
“Honestly, I’m just disappointed,” he said. “There’s no one more deserving of that opportunity than Elijah. You just look at it. He had a lot of DNPs (did not play in a game) at Notre Dame and now the NCAA is basically saying he’s going to have to sit another half-a-year. He’s going to miss another 20 games. I think that’s really unfair.”
Siena got more bad news Friday when it found out redshirt freshman forward Jimmy Ratliff had fractured his left pinky in Thursday’s loss at Saint Peter’s. He’ll have a pin inserted and is expected to be out four to six weeks.