Bleacher's King: UAAP's hypocrisy rule

Posted at 03/11/2013 3:10 PM

“An incoming collegiate athlete who is a high school graduate from a UAAP member university and enrolled in a member university shall take a mandatory two-year residency. This two-year residency will not be considered as playing years.”

With this, the UAAP Board passed and approved the eligibility rule by a vote of 5-2 last March 5, 2013 at the boardroom of the SM Mall of Asia. The new wrinkle to the eligibility and transfer rule is to take effect this coming Season 76.

Only Ateneo and UP voted against the amendment of what is infamously known as “The Soc Rivera Rule” where high school student-athletes who transfer to another UAAP college after graduation have to sit out a year for residency before they can suit up. However, if their high school released them or waived their option for residency then they could play right away.

Coincidentally, it was both Ateneo and UP that voted against the “Soc Rivera Rule” in May 22, 2007. The rule was passed on a 4-2 vote.

When “the Soc Rivera Rule” was passed, it took effect after one season. The UAAP Board saw it differently this time. It takes effect immediately.

Soc Rivera was one of four FEU-FERN players (the others being Mark Lopez, Jomar Paulino, and Dexter Rosales), who went to UP after their high school. Another of FEU-FERN’s star players then, Jolas Paguia, went to Emilio Aguinaldo College. Only lead point guard Jens Knuttel went on to FEU for college.

Of these former Baby Tamaraw players to go to Diliman, it was only Mark Lopez who managed to stay for the entire five years. During that very contentious summer, the State U was asked to pay for “the investment” of FEU in these players.

This rule is obviously a knee jerk reaction to the recruitment of FEU-FERN star Jerie Pingoy by Ateneo.

It is also ridiculous. If say FEU has invested in the player’s food, dorm, upkeep and allowance among others, hasn’t he repaid that by playing for the school and going to classes? To hold one bondage over this is tantamount to slavery. A person should be able to choose what school he wants to go to whether by his own volition or through recruitment.

The fact that UP had to pay FEU for Rivera and company is outrageous. So now there’s a transfer fee for players? Is this more proof that college sports is masquerading as an amateur sport when it is really now professional in nature?

Around the time of the “Soc Rivera Rule” controversy, I asked former FEU player Jay-R Bulangis if any form of money was required when they transferred out of FEU. Bulangis had become a revelation and key player with Jose Rizal University about five years ago. He said that there was none.

Draw your own conclusion there.

Following the logic of the new rule that means all these kids should go up to the seniors ranks? But the universities have shown that when it comes to college level sports, they recruit heavily from the outside. Not everyone moves up from the high school ranks to the senior level.

Why? Because there are better players and schools recruit heavily from the outside.

Not every player recruited moves because of the perks (as many falsely believe). One current baseball player did not want to play second fiddle to the top man so he opted to go to the rival school where he could shine. Some go where they can play right away. While some kids move because of their course.

When a player is recruited, he or she moves because it is supposedly a better opportunity. Isn’t that a pitch line when schools recruit from others whether in Metro Manila or in the provinces? How different is it from a corporation offering some hotshot grad a job – they have something to offer.

I took a look at all the UAAP school’s men’s basketball teams for Season 74 (I don’t have the official records of Season 75 just yet) in order to find out how many from the juniors squads moved up to the seniors ranks and how many were recruited from UAAP high schools. The results are surprising:

Ateneo de Manila University
6 from Ateneo High School
1 from De La Salle Zobel

Adamson University
1 from Adamson High School

De La Salle University
5 from De La Salle Zobel
1 from National University High School

Far Eastern University
7 from FEU-FERN – This sounds like a lot, yes? But take note that in recent years, they have begun to recruit heavily in high school from other schools around the country. Jens Knuttel was in Ateneo de Zamboanga when they brought him over to Manila. It is the same with their high school football team. They are recruited from other schools with many of them having played high school in their respective locales.

National University
1 from NU HS – This school is following heavily in FEU’s footsteps by building their high school ranks through recruiting so they can move up to the seniors.
2 from UST HS

University of the East
4 from UE HS
1 from Adamson HS

University of the Philippines
1 from UPIS
3 from Ateneo HS
1 from Adamson

University of Santo Tomas
4 from UST HS
1 from De La Salle Zobel
1 from Ateneo HS

There really isn’t much movement from one school to another as all schools now heavily recruit from the outside. Now I looked up the juniors squads of each UAAP school to see how many came up from the elementary ranks.

Ateneo High School
10 from Ateneo Grade School
1 from De La Salle Zobel Grade School

Adamson High School
None from Adamson Grade School

De La Salle Zobel High School
5 from DLSZ Grade School

FEU-FERN
None from FEU-FERN

National University High School
1 from NU Grade School

University of the East High School
2 from UE Grade School

University of the Philippines Integrated School
2 from UPIS
1 from Ateneo GS

University of Santo Tomas High School
None from UST Grade School
1 from Ateneo Grade School

Not much moving up from the grade school to high school, right? The only UAAP schools that have a structure from elementary to college are Ateneo, La Salle, UE, and UP.

I also checked the teams from Season 73 and here are the summaries of those transferring from one UAAP school to another.

Ateneo de Manila University
5 from Ateneo High School

Adamson University
1 from Adamson High School

De La Salle University
5 from De La Salle Zobel

Far Eastern University
4 from FEU-FERN

National University
1 from NU High School
1 from UE High School

University of the East
4 from UE High School
1 from Adamson High School

University of the Philippines
1 from UPIS
1 from Adamson High School
1 from FEU-FERN
1 from Ateneo High School
1 from De La Salle Zobel High School

University of Santo Tomas
1 from UST HS
1 from DLSZ
1 from Ateneo High School
1 from UE HS

Should Pingoy change zip codes, he will be the highest profile high school player to possibly change colors for college since Kyle Neypes and Cedric Labing-isa departed UST for NU.

Previous to that there was Mark Juruena who moved from Adamson to UP. There was Soc Rivera and company going to UP and before that it was Ateneo High School’s BJ Manalo who went to La Salle.

What does this mean? The recruitment of one UAAP school’s junior stars in hoops happens very infrequently. For the most part, the stars of a university’s secondary educational program stay. Some do not play anymore in college. It is the same also in other college sports. I will outline that in another paper.

Many schools poach San Beda High School players and are oft successful because not all the Red Cubs move up to the Red Lions due to a difference in needs. But it should be noted that SBC recruits heavily in the high school. Case in point Javee Mocon who came from Colegio San Benildo in Antipolo and is now a key player in the Red Cubs. Even former Red Cubs star LA Tenorio was playing for the Adamson Baby Falcons when he transferred. Ditto with Nico Salva who played only one year for the Red Cubs as he spent most of his early playing years in La Salle Greenhills. Those are but a couple. There are many similar stories.

The incredible thing is in the absence of recruiting laws – there is no letter of intent here, there are no rules against gifts, pay-offs, allowances, limited contact with recruiters, or even agents – there is nothing wrong. It is all perfectly legal. However, it does make one wonder about the lack of a true amateur spirit in scholastic sports.

Let’s look at women’s volleyball in particular since it is the other mandatory sport in the UAAP (the other being basketball). Not every university has a grade school and Ateneo is the only one that is not co-ed in the elementary and secondary level.

Ateneo de Manila University
None from AHS since it is all male
1 from UST HS

Adamson University
None from Adamson

De La Salle University
None from DLSZ

Far Eastern University
None from FEU-FERN

University of the East
3 from UE HS

University of the Philippines
1 from UPIS
1 from DLSZ

University of Santo Tomas
3 from UST HS

Small numbers, isn’t it? That means colleges heavily recruit. UST is hurting from this because their high school team of three years ago lost Alyssa Valdez to Ateneo, Dindin and Jaja Santiago to NU, and Kim Fajardo to La Salle. Had they stuck around with their other high school teammate Maru Banaticla, who knows where they’d be?

I understand them voting for the new rule but they have always recruited heavily from the outside. None of those supposedly homegrown stars came up through the UST system. They were all recruited from other high schools. All were brought to UST by head coach Francis Vicente who is now with NU (where he brought along the Santiago sisters).

However, because it is acceptable to poach from schools outside the UAAP then we turn a blind eye. Hey, isn’t going to a Manila school a better opportunity as opposed to a provincial school (I know how disrespectful that sounds)?

I find it odd that La Salle voted for the rule given that they too at times taken players from other schools – Tata Marata from UP (oh he was moved to Reedley? This is a common tactic now – move them to other schools so it is easier to circumvent the residency rule).

I seem to recall that several years ago, La Salle recruited a lot of the RP Youth Team players. There should be a rule that anyone involved with his or her alma mater not recruit from the national team. For years that has been used as an advantage in a feeder program (see football).

Sports bodies come up with dumb rules all the time and even American sports is not immune to this. To curb the dominance of one Lew Alcindor in college, the US NCAA banned dunking. Yes, the slam dunk was banned in American college hoops from 1967 to 1976 because Alcindor was dominant and led UCLA to a bunch to titles.

Maybe when LeBron James was a star for St. Vincent-St. Mary they should have outlawed huge specimens like him for dominating high school hoops in America.

All these rule changes in the UAAP are preposterous.

There was the Fil-Am Rule where one had to sit it out for two years before he could play.

There was the Don Allado Rule where anyone drafted in the PBA can no longer suit up even when he isn’t playing yet with his pro club.

The Mac Cardona Rule, where a Filipino who went to high school in the United States had to sit out a year before playing.

There’s the Soc Rivera Rule.

There’s the Jai Reyes Rule where only true rookies can win the ROY Award and not some guy who was in Team B.

There’s the Masteral Student’s Rule where a player taking his mater’s degree can only suit up for a college he once played for or enrolled in.

There’s the Maui Villanueva Rule, where Maui finished high school in UPIS but went to Japan. But because of a different schooling system, Maui had to study a few more years in high school. He sat out a year of residency when he went to La Salle.

There’s that OFW Rule or the Bobby Parks Rule.

Have I missed anything?

Seeing all these rules passed (save for the first two all came in the last few years), I am reminded of an old Microsoft advertising campaign (when the internet was beginning to boom) that asked, “Where do you want to go today?”

Instead with the UAAP, every year it’s, “What new rule can we come up with this time to stop (insert school’s name here)?”

The UAAP Board regularly comes up with new rules in college to stymie one school but turn a blind eye to the proliferation of Africans (imagine UST inserted Karim Abdul in high school so he can play right away in college). It is the wild west when it comes to recruitment where packages are worth much more than any game show host could give a hopeful contestant.

All these rule changes really show how the current rules in place are filled with potholes and school try to look for ways to circumvent them. For years I have taken shots at the board for this. Why can they not once and for all as educators sit down and hammer out a truly good rule book that is fair and not prejudiced?

The new rule will mean the recruitment now will happen (as if it doesn’t already) in the elementary level. It will stretch budgets. It will deprive homegrown development and the raise the competitive levels. This will spin the recruiting wars in a new direction. And in a few years, the UAAP Board will see this and come up with a new rule that will beggar the imagination.

Really, the long and short of this new rule is the other UAAP schools want to stop one school as well as to appease the anger of one school that could lose their prized player.

A breakdown of the migration of UAAP HS players:

Here’s the breakdown of the Season 74 of athletes who moved up to the seniors ranks from their own high school and other UAAP high schools. It does not cover the men’s basketball teams and juniors teams.

Ateneo de Manila University
From Ateneo High School:
4 AHS Men’s Badminton
4 AHS Baseball
1 AHS Men’s Beach Volleyball
3 AHS Men’s Chess
6 AHS Men’s Fencing
10 AHS Men’s Football
10 AHS Men’s Judo
3 AHS Men’s Lawn Tennis
9 AHS Men’s Swimming
6 AHS Men’s Table Tennis
3 AHS Men’s Taekwondo
18 AHS Men’s Track and Field
6 AHS Men’s Volleyball
1 AHS Pep Squad
5 AHS Street Dance

From other UAAP high schools:
4 DLSZ Baseball
1 UST HS Women’s Beach Volleyball
1 UE HS Men’s Chess
3 DLSZ Women’s Football
2 DLSZ Softball
2 DLSZ Men’s Swimming
1 DLSZ Men’s Volleyball
1 UST HS Women’s Volleyball

Adamson University
From Adamson High School:
6 Adamson HS Women’s Basketball
1 Adamson HS Men’s Chess
2 Adamson HS Men’s Table Tennis
2 Adamson HS Women’s Table Tennis
2 Adamson HS Men’s Track and Field
4 Adamson HS Pep Squad

From other UAAP high schools:
1 NU HS Men’s Chess

De La Salle University
From De La Salle Zobel (LSGH is not counted as a UAAP school)
2 DLSZ Baseball
2 DLSZ Women’s Basketball
5 DLSZ Men’s Football
4 DLSZ Women’s Football
1 DLSZ Men’s Judo
1 DLSZ Men’s Lawn Tennis
2 DLSZ Women’s Swimming
3 DLSZ Men’s Volleyball
4 DLSZ Pep Squad

From other UAAP high schools:
1 AHS Baseball
1 UE HS Women’s Chess
1 AHS Men’s Football
1 UST HS Men’s Swimming
1 UPIS Women’s Swimming
1 UE HS Women’s Swimming
1 UST HS Women’s Swimming
1 UST Men’s Table Tennis
2 UST HS Men’s Taekwondo
2 UST HS Men’s Track and field
2 UE HS Men’s Volleyball

Far Eastern University
From FEU-FERN:
6 FEU-FERN Men’s Football
1 FEU-FERN Women’s Football
1 FEU-FERN Men’s Taekwondo
1 FEU-FERN Men’s Track and field

From other UAAP high schools
1 Adamson HS Women’s Chess
1 UE Women’s Table Tennis

National University
From NU high school:
1 NU HS Women’s Chess
1 NU HS Pep Squad
1 NU HS Pep Stunting
2 NU HS Street Dance

From other UAAP high schools
1 Adamson HS Women’s Basketball
1 UE HS Pep Stunting

University of the East
From UE high school:
1 UE HS Women’s Beach Volleyball
1 UE HS Men’s Chess
2 UE HS Women’s Chess
1 UE HS Women’s Fencing
4 UE HS Men’s Fencing
2 UE HS Men’s Judo
1 UE HS Women’s Judo
3 UE HS Men’s Swimming
2 UE HS Women’s Swimming
2 UE HS Men’s Table Tennis
2 UE HS Men’s Taekwondo
1 UE HS Women’s Taekwondo
1 UE HS Men’s Track and field
3 UE HS Men’s Volleyball
2 UE HS Women’s Volleyball
2 UE HS Pep Squad

University of the Philippines
From UP Integrated School
1 UPIS Men’s Beach Volleyball
1 UPIS Women’s Fencing
2 UPIS Men’s Fencing
4 UPIS Women’s Swimming
2 UST HS Women’s Swimming
1 UPIS Men’s Table Tennis
1 UPIS Women’s Table Tennis
1 UPIS Women’s Taekwondo
7 UPIS Men’s Track and field
1 UPIS Men’s Volleyball
1 UPIS Women’s Volleyball
1 UPIS Pep Squad

From other UAAP high schools:
1 DSLZ Women’s Badminton
1 UST HS Men’s Beach Volleyball
1 UE HS Women’s Chess
1 AHS Men’s Fencing
2 AHS Men’s Football
3 DLSZ Women’s Football
1 FEU-FERN Men’s Judo
1 AHS Men’s Judo
1 AHS Men’s Swimming
2 FEU-FERN Men’s Taekwondo
1 UST HS Men’s Track and field
3 AHS Men’s Track and field
1 UST Men’s Volleyball
1 DLSZ Women’s Volleyball
1 AHS Pep Stunting
1 AHS Street Dance

University of Santo Tomas
From UST High School
1 UST HS Women’s Beach Volleyball
4 UST HS Men’s Judo
2 UST HS Women’s Judo
2 UST HS Men’s Swimming
1 UST Men’s Taekwondo
2 UST HS Men’s Volleyball
3 UST HS Women’s Volleyball
1 UST HS Pep Squad

From other UAAP high schools
2 Adamson HS Men’s Chess
1 AHS Men’s Fencing
1 DLSZ Women’s Football
1 FEU-FERN Men’s Judo

I checked the grade school to high school migration and there’s also a great disparity. I checked also the official records from Season 72 and 73 and the data is pretty much the same. The conclusion is most schools recruit outside their own backyard. To list them here would be tedious and nothing different. Of course, when the official records of Season 75 come in, I will also check them if the data reads the same.

Conclusion: Of the close to a thousand athletes participating in the UAAP, it is only Ateneo and UE to an extent where you see a sizeable chunk of their high school athletes move up to the seniors level. Most schools recruit and change their recruits in high school and in college. UP has a lot more players coming in from other UAAP schools as opposed to UPIS. As for La Salle, there are far more LSGH athletes who are in different UAAP schools as opposed to DLSZ.

But give it a year or so the landscape will change because of greater emphasis on recruiting where FEU and NU are stocking up on their juniors players in hopes of them moving up to the seniors ranks. We could also see an increase in the recruitment from NCAA and other NCR leagues.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.