Editorial: Give Lyman a Chance

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Cal football's Chase Lyman has become the unwilling poster boy for hard luck. After all his injuries and frustrated hopes, he deserves a shot at another season.

Cal's hapless wide-receiver has missed nearly half of his games due to injury. In the five years he's been here, Lyman has forgone 25 out of 60 games due to two knee injuries, a broken hand, a torn hamstring and a ruptured appendix.

Even after tearing the ligaments in his right angle in 2003, Lyman still managed to shine. In the Insight Bowl, he caught five passes over a career-high 149 yards. With impressive performances in the next three games, the now-top wide receiver proved his ability.

The thwarted college star should have had enough grounds to apply for a sixth year, but according to NCAA rules, a player must have missed 80 percent of two seasons to qualify. Chase Lyman twisted his knee partway into the third quarter of the high-stakes USC game last fall, leaving him 36 minutes over the cutoff for consideration.

Lyman is now marooned in pigskin purgatory. He is unable to fully commit to professional aspirations since he needs to retain eligibility for college football. He practices all day with potential draftees, returns to Cal at night for physical therapy, and researches legal cases similar to his. All in all, the picture does not look promising.

While the National Collegiate Athletes Association sounds like a pro-athlete organization, it has historically proven itself to hold extremely anti-athlete policies. Chase Lyman is not the first to come up against the association's monolithic bureaucracy. He faces arbitrary rules and systemic inflexibility-one player whose father was murdered didn't qualify for "extraordinary circumstances." Many with stronger cases than Lyman have failed to win anything from the establishment. Due to a technicality, Lyman is still considered to have played four years-although he was out half the time-and no similar athlete considered thus far has ever been granted a sixth year.

Despite the lack of precedent, Lyman and his supporters still have some hope. NCAA's president Myles Brand has announced his intention of making the organization more athlete-friendly, and the cases that Lyman studied support that trend. Were they to grant Chase Lyman one more year, it would go a long way towards dispelling that image.

And frankly, after all he's been through, Lyman deserves it.


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