Thankfully, the NCAA came to its senses and reduced Myck Kabongo's suspension to just 12 more games on top of the 11 he's already missed.
A one-year suspension, which is what was first reported, would have been excessive. This isn't the Medieval Times when violators get the death penalty for stealing a slice of bread or a dandelion from the garden.
While Kabongo's initial infraction was accepting payment for airfare, transportation and a training session in Cleveland, his penalty was enhanced after providing false information to investigators.
Though even 23 games sounds kind of nutty for such a harmless crime, the NCAA's decision to let him play could be the difference between a guaranteed contract and a non-guaranteed contract.
This news breathes life back into Kabongo's NBA future, who after a disappointing freshman season, needed a year of redemption in order to leave a better taste in scouts' mouths.
NBA evaluators have raised questions over Kabongo's ability to run an offense.
Now, the sophomore point guard will have an opportunity to answer them in what could be just four-to-five short weeks of organized basketball.
Myck Kabongo was a consensus top-30 recruit in 2011, and a projected lottery pick before his freshman year at Texas. While last year's choppy performance might have dented his draft stock, an entire year away from live game action could have resulted in more permanent damage.
The NCAA has been harshly criticized for the way they handle their investigations and enforce their rules.
Jay Bilas, along with everyone else with a laptop, went to Twitter to address his beef with the report that the NCAA would be banning Kabongo for the year:
Let's see...NCAA leaks Kabongo's a liar and suspended for a year. And, NCAA remains silent on fellow prez Graham Spanier. Nice message.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) December 20, 2012
Spanier, of course, was the President of Penn State during the reign of Jerry Sandusky.
Not like the NCAA cares about the public's perception, but the modification to Kabongo's suspension will diminish the P.R. hit that was coming—especially after the way they botched Shabazz Muhammad's suspension—keeping everyone, including him, in the dark.
Kabongo will be eligible to play on February 13 against Iowa State with just enough time to make a statement about his potential. He'll have eight conference games to do so, including showdowns with Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma State.
He's setup to play the hero role, as those final eight games could determine the Longhorns' postseason future.
They could also determine where Kabongo will go on draft night.
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