The ongoing debate over banning foreign student-athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is far from over.
During his exclusive interview with Tiebreaker Times, Season 96 Management Committee Chairperson and Colegio de San Juan de Letran athletic director Rev. Fr. Vic Calvo, Jr., O.P. enumerated his 10 reasons why having “imports” in the NCAA is more of a disadvantage and has allegedly done more harm than good for the country’s Grand Old League.
San Beda Red Lions team manager Jude Roque gave his insights about Fr. Calvo’s pronouncements.
“I respect the opinion of the NCAA ManCom but I totally disagree that the foreign student-athletes did more harm than good to the league.
“First of all, all member schools accept foreign students. Why deny them equal rights with Filipino students? One foreign athlete per team shouldn’t be too much to ask,” said Roque.
“Second, the entire globe has embraced the concept of different nationalities settling in other countries other than their own — to work, to study, to build a family, etc. And this is particularly true in sports. Why must we close our borders to other nationalities?” added Roque, a well-traveled team manager who was part of Gilas 1.0.
Back in 2006, San Beda ended a 28-year title drought. And leading the way was Nigerian student-athlete Sam Ekwe, who won both the MVP and Rookie of the Year plums of Season 82. Since then, the Red Lions have captured 11 of the last 14 seniors’ basketball crowns — making it to the finals in all those years.
During their championship runs, they paraded foreign student-athletes Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Ola Adeogun, Donald Tankoua, and Nunu Noah.
For Roque, the competition in the NCAA has improved compared to 14 years ago thanks to the FSAs. Clear evidence of this includes the improvement of the likes of Ian Sangalang and Raymond Almazan.
“I believe our level of competition in basketball now is so much higher than in 2006 when Sam Ekwe first played in the NCAA. I understand there are some issues with certain foreign student-athletes but the league must not generalize or stereotype.”
Fr. Calvo has gone on record to say that one of the proposals the league has is to have two conferences — an All-Filipino and an FSA-laden tournament. But it needs to have six of 10 votes to be approved.
Roque, though, stressed that banning FSAs altogether is not a good step forward for the league, which is about to celebrate a century of existence.
“Anyway, the league can make rules to address or control such issues. I just don’t think banning foreign student-athletes is the right way to go. I think this is going backward, opposite to the direction the whole world is going.”