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Hampton Football Eligibility Crisis Lingers Ahead of Howard Rivalry Game

NCAA eligibility requirements will cause some student-athletes at Hampton University to miss upcoming games.

Defensive back Ray Williams (7) returns an interception for Howard University against Hampton University in 2022. (Photo Courtesy of HU Bison Football)

Eligibility issues may cause several Hampton University football players to be sidelined in the Truth and Service Classic against Howard University on Sept. 16.

 “Unfortunately, my assessment has revealed that multiple student-athletes do not meet eligibility requirements based upon NCAA bylaws,” Hampton University Athletic Director Anthony Henderson confirmed in a letter released on Friday afternoon.

While the requirements that the Hampton student-athletes failed to meet were not specified, general bylaw expectations include but are not limited to: prohibition of sports wagering, amateurism guidelines that prevent taking pay to compete, maintenance of satisfactory academic progress and a ban of competition for an outside team according to the NCAA Summary of Regulations.

The Pirates were missing a significant number of players due to eligibility complications in their week one loss to Norfolk State University, although the exact amount and reason for ineligibility was not specified. According to Henderson, the Pirates were confirmed to be missing “double-digit” players in the game.

Hampton student-athlete eligibility is a concern that has transcended the football field, as it was the primary reason a volleyball game against the Norfolk State Spartans was postponed on Sept. 5. 

As the athletic director’s report confirmed, the eligibility issues still persist throughout the athletic program, and several players are expected to miss the contest against the Bison.

The Pirates were victorious in 2022’s “Battle of the Real HU,” prevailing with a final score of 31-28. 

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At this point in the 2023 season, the teams seem to be at different places; the Pirates look to weather a storm of compliance troubles coming off of a loss, while the Bison look to roll in their home-city following a dominant 65-19 win against the Maroon Tigers.

According to Henderson’s statement, the Hampton athletic department is taking steps to “expedite the process and ensure future adherence to all eligibility requirements.” Henderson cited an increase in compliance and student support staff as measures taken to remedy factors that stand to hinder full participation from student-athletes. 

Hampton football head coach claimed to have “no knowledge of his players being ineligible” when asked earlier in the week of the Truth and Service Classic according to a report by 13newsnow.

“The fact that it’s an away game and it’s a big rivalry… going into that type of environment with players missing means Howard will probably win in a blowout,” Irewole Korede, a Howard University sophomore marketing major, said. 

The “Battle of HU” is set to take place at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m. and will stream on ESPN+. 

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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