Travis Black got the chance that so many young ballers spend their lives working for. He got a scholarship to play basketball and get an education at the same time. Half-way through his college career, that’s all in jeopardy because of a NCAA ruling. Emmet Ryan spoke with the Irish baller about his fight to regain his eligibility from the NCAA.
It was quite the leap. Travis Black spent his teenage years playing for Swords and Ard Scoil Ris in Ireland before getting the chance to go to the US at 17. The Dubliner had to leave his family behind to try his hand at pursuing his dream. Black didn’t immediately go to college, despite finishing second level in Ireland because he was told he had to do more to qualify.
“I was told that since I graduated from secondary school in Ireland, moving to America I did not have the credentials to be considered a American high school graduate. So I was classified as a Junior in high school,” Black told Ballineurope.com.
“After graduating I attend a Prep School for a year to strengthen my academics where I also participated on their basketball team.”
Black first made it into the juco ranks, helping the Spartanburg Methodist Academy to the NJCAA Final Four. From there he got an offer to play Division II ball with Clayton State. That’s when the NCAA stepped in.
“They declared me ineligible for my final two years so basically I’m done playing but with all this publicity maybe I can get the case reviewed again. If that does not work I might have eligibility to play NAIA which is another Division but I’m waiting on word regarding that situation,” said Black.
“I receive a great amount of support from my teammates. The coaching staff has let me continue to practice with the team and allow me to have a major role within the team.”
Essentially Black is being punished for furthering his education. By finishing his Leaving Cert in Ireland and then going on to complete high school in the US, the Dubliner has done all he can to make sure he was eligible to play at the NCAA level. The governing body doesn’t see it that way.
“The NCAA always promotes students first and athletes second. I’m just a young Irish lad trying to get my bachelor’s degree, while pursuing my dream of playing college basketball,” said Black.
“Not only is my eligibility taken but my opportunity to have school paid for which is worth $40,000 for the next 2 years,” he said.
Black’s fight came to BiE’s attention following a massive social media campaign last weekend. The Black family back in Ireland has mobilised the basketball community locally and their efforts have seen support come in from across the globe. Black recognises the importance of this kind of backing.
“The more the NCAA is being publicized in a bad way, the more chance they might review the case. Like I said because there such a big organisation in America so they don’t want to have a bad name,” said Black
“To have so much support from people I don’t even know gives me hope and shows that the people who have been there for me since day one is great to see as well. I would like to give a big thanks to everybody that has supported me,” he said.
“To all the people I do know and for the ones who I don’t know, it means a whole to me and my family. All I ever done since I have been in America is work hard, represent my family, my friends and last but not least my country. In doing this my way of paying back my family, friends and country was not only playing college basketball at a high level but earning a college degree as well. I kind of felt ill letting them down but there is nothing I can really do. I still plan on reaching those goals though because I have come too far to stop now and with all this support from back home and around different places I know I’ll get it done.”
You can show your support for Black by tweeting with the hashtag #LetTravisPlay