NCAA slams the door shut on Toren

After months of waiting, the fate of a 19-year-old who left his home country in search of an education and a basketball career has been decided.

Rafael Toren, who came to USF in December, was denied eligibility for intercollegiate competition in the NCAA’s final ruling Thursday.

Toren played on a club team in Israel while serving as a soldier-athlete in the Israeli Army.

The NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, chaired by Carolayne Henry, an associate commissioner for compliance/senior women’s administrator of the Mountain West Conference, denied Toren’s appeal.

The decision means Toren will never be able to play college basketball in the United States.

Henry, the rest of the committee of student-athlete reinstatement, USF Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Steve Horton, Toren and his father met at 11 a.m. Thursday via conference call to discuss an appeal made by the school in mid-January.

“This young man, Rafael Toren, who was committed to maintaining amateur status and their decision not to reinstate him, in essence, will force him to be a professional,” Greenberg said. “The very thing that he, along with his father, made every single effort to avoid becoming.”

The NCAA’s two arguments that led to denying Toren’s eligibility were that he signed with a club team while he was in high school and while in the military referred to reimbursement expenses if his team advanced to the playoffs.

“He also had to sign (a club contract) because in order to maintain soldier-athlete status and avoid being placed on the front line in danger of being killed by a terrorist, that status enabled him to be a soldier-athlete and play for a club team,” Greenberg said. “It is against Israeli law to get any sort of performance incentive while a soldier athlete. We had documents proving that, yet this committee once again failed to recognize these documents from the Israeli Basketball Association specifically stating that any aspect of the agreement that referred to a “reward” was in essence further reimbursement for expenses if his team advanced to the playoffs.”

Toren now will have to decide whether to remain at USF under his own expenses or go back to Israel.

“For those two reasons, they denied this young man his eligibility and did not reinstate him, and they are shameful in that decision,” Greenberg said.