NCAA Ruling Leaves Catliff Eligible
John Catliff, a top Harvard soccer player who risked his NCAA eligibility this past weekend by playing in a Canadian national tournament, returned to Cambridge yesterday still free to play for the Crimson.
Catliff endangered his collegiate career by playing with his club team, the Kerrisdale Road Runners of British Columbia, for the Canadian Youth Championship. NCAA rules state than an athlete may not play for another team without forfeiting his right to play for his college team.
Thanks to Pat Miller, the Harvard liaison for NCAA eligibility, Catliff did not lose the right to play for Harvard. She filed the waiver to release Catliff from the NCAA restrictions, which an NCAA committee approved on Friday, the day before Catliff's game.
The NCAA Administrative Committee ruled that Catliff was still eligible under a provision to the rule that allows an athlete "to participate in a competition officially recognized as directly qualifying the athlete for final Olympic tryouts," according to NCAA official Jamie McCloskey.
Though the competition was not a direct qualifier, a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee was planning to attend to watch Catliff play. Said Miller, "Catliff has a good chance of being observed."
Miller argued that the Canadian system of qualification is different, not involving one specific event. Instead, evaluations are made of a player's ability over a period of time, she said.
The committee which decided Catliff's case is composed of six of the highest NCAA officials. The committee meets bi-monthly by conference call, and grants waivers like Catliff's with a two-thirds vote.
Although Harvard Coach Jape Shattuck was fairly sure the waiver would be approved. Harvard Athletics Director Jack Reardon '60 was not so confident of the outcome. He said yesterday "I wanted to be sure he [Catliff] knew nothing was for sure."
Catliff played the game still unaware of the NCAA's ruling. He said Sunday, "I would consider it a big risk but it is a risk worth taking."
Shattuck encouraged him to take the risk. "My coach said to forget about it, whatever happens, happens," Catliff said. He added that his teammates expressed no resentment at his decision to go ahead and play in Canada.
Catliff will not know immediately the results of the Olympic scout's report. However, he said, "I feel sure that I can play on the Olympic team. The caliber isn't that high to exclude me"
The competition was very important to Catliff, who has been playing with the Road Runners for eight years. The captain of the team, he led them to a 9-2 victory and the tournament championship, scoring the first and last goals of the game.
Andy Doctoroff contributed to the reporting for this article.