Many George Mason fans, including myself, were very excited when news broke that Therence Mayimba had committed to the program back in 2013. It appeared to be a big catch for Paul Hewitt and a player that could contribute right away on both ends. But Mayimba never saw the court and was sidelined behind eligibility issues with the NCAA. Mayimba came to the U.S. from Gabon as a teenager and unfortunately this issue is something that is not uncommon for foreign players from Africa. I was always told by the previous coaching staff that they were waiting on paperwork from his home country to clear and that the NCAA was just dragging their feet. Apparently that wasn’t the whole story.
Just last month Fan Rag Sports did a big article on the eligibility issues with the NCAA and African players and we get a lot more insight on what exactly happened with Mayimba. Hewitt and his staff complain that the NCAA kept “moving the target” and they kept making the issue about something else even after they proved Mayimba’s good grades and proved birth documents.
But apparently the real sticking point for the NCAA was Mayimba lying about his age on a dating website when he was 16 years old. No, I’m not kidding. From the article:
According to former Mason employees, once the school was able to establish amateurism, the NCAA moved on to an issue with Mayimba’s age. His official documents, including his birth certificate and passport, indicated he was 18 years old and therefore eligible to play at George Mason. However, Hewitt and Mayimba said the player signed up for an online dating site when Mayimba was 16. To be accepted for the service, Mayimba stated he was 18 at the time, which the NCAA accepted as proof Mayimba was actually 20 when he intended to enroll at George Mason.
“Literally the smoking gun, if you will, was the dating website,” Hewitt said. “Therence had logged into that and said he was 18 years old when he was actually 16 years old. All his official documentation was verified by all the necessary agencies, yet the NCAA rejects it.”
Well that is the most NCAA thing ever right there. The article continues to show other examples of how the NCAA will treat some demographic areas unfavorably and do whatever they can to prevent those players from playing. This is nothing new for anyone who has been following college basketball over the years but it’s very unfortunate we never got to see Mayimba play at all. Especially for such a dumb reason after Mason tried hard to get him on the court and he did have good grades in America.
[Photo by Bill Bride]