James Faulk, the leading rebounder on the Cal Lutheran basketball team and in the Golden State Athletic Conference, has been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season, effective Feb. 11.
The 6-foot, 3-inch senior failed to comply with an NAIA rule requiring athletes to complete a minimum of 24 credit hours within the past two semesters or one year. Faulk, who averaged 9 rebounds and 11.1 points a game for the second-place Kingsmen, was told by a teammate about his ineligible status Saturday night, shortly before Cal Lutheran's game with Southern California College.
"I couldn't believe it," said Faulk, who completed 21 credit hours since February, 1987. "I thought I had everything I needed. No one informed me that I needed more units--and Bob Doering, the athletic director, is my academic adviser. He never said anything to me about it. I was devastated."
Responding to Faulk's comments, Doering said: "He blames me, his coach and society for his troubles. But eligibility requirements are the responsibility of students. There's no way an administrator can control what an athlete does. I'm his adviser because he's a physical education major. I go over with him what classes he needs to take to get his degree. But we don't have advisers just for eligibility."
Nate Wright, the eligibility chairman for the NAIA District III, said that coaches and athletic directors help athletes track their eligibility status at many schools, but he was unfamiliar with the system--or lack thereof--at Cal Lutheran.
Every NAIA school, however, must have an athletics faculty representative who notifies coaches and the athletic director when an athlete ultimately fails to meet eligibility standards. "He's the conscience of the institution," Wright said.
CLU's faculty representative, Monte Luker, discovered that Faulk had not fulfilled the 24-credit requirement and posted the information on the door of Doering's office last weekend. A teammate read the note and passed the word to Faulk.
"I could have picked up a couple extra units. It would have been easy," he said. "I just didn't know."
Faulk said he believed he had fulfilled eligibility requirements for the 1987-88 basketball season because he took 25 credits from the fall semester, 1986, to fall, 1987. But from last year's spring semester to the current spring semester that began in February, his total of 21 credit hours fell three short of the annual minimum.
Wright said Faulk could file for an exemption because the athlete reportedly missed the 1987 spring semester because of health reasons. Faulk, who also was ineligible for several weeks during the 1986-87 season because of a low grade-point average, said he temporarily withdrew from school last spring because he suffered a nervous breakdown.
Faulk said he considered filing for the waiver useless because Cal Lutheran (6-2 in the GSAC) has only 2 1/2 weeks left in the regular season. The Kingsmen probably will qualify for postseason play. Still, Wright said an application for an exemption must be made in writing. It would be reviewed by a three-member committee at the district level before being forwarded to the NAIA office in Kansas City, Mo., where a national committee would consider the case.
"It takes two to three weeks," Wright said. "If they get it moving, something could develop."
The only thing developing now, though, is a feud between Faulk and Doering. Faulk said when he attempted to talk to Doering by phone Tuesday, the athletic director cut the conversation short by hanging up.
Faulk also said he would transfer to another school to pursue a degree in physical education.
"I'm leaving," he said, "because I know it will be real uncomfortable for me here now."