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UAlbany men's lacrosse's Nanticoke will play Tuesday

UAlbany men's lacrosse's Nanticoke will play Tuesday

Sophomore was temporarily ineligible, missed Saturday's game for an NCAA violation
UAlbany men's lacrosse's Nanticoke will play Tuesday
Tehoka Nanticoke is shown at a preseason practice.
Photographer: Erica Miller

This report has been updated to reflect Tehoka Nanticoke's reinstatement.

COLONIE — A "minor violation" of NCAA rules took University at Albany men's lacrosse sophomore Tehoka Nanticoke out of the Great Danes' lineup for Saturday's one-goal loss at Cornell.

Quickly, the question became how long Nanticoke would remain out.

Monday evening, UAlbany got its answer — and Nanticoke will be in its lineup for Tuesday's 3 p.m. home opener against UMass at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium after the sophomore "had his eligibility reinstated by the NCAA," per a press release from the school's athletic department.

“I’m really happy it got resolved quickly and that he can play tomorrow," UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said in a brief phone interview shortly after he found out he'd have his top player returned to his lineup.

Earlier Monday, Marr had a lot more to say about the situation that resulted in Nanticoke missing Saturday's loss at then-No. 3 Cornell. Measured in his delivery and forceful with his message, Marr commented on the sophomore being ruled temporarily ineligible because of a social-media post that was viewed as promoting a company.

“The NCAA makes a lot of money off of athletes and they pretend to be student-athlete friendly,” Marr said. “I don’t see any friendliness with suspending a kid indefinitely for making a mistake.”

Marr said he was informed Friday morning that Nanticoke could not play Saturday because of the since-deleted post the sophomore made Thursday in which he “tagged some third-rate [lacrosse stick] stringing company on his Instagram” account.

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“Big-brother monopoly that we work under doesn’t allow you to do those types of things,” Marr said Monday during his weekly appearance on “Big Board Sports” on ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team. “No warning. No nothing. Just instant. You’re ineligible until proven innocent, I guess.”

A UAlbany athletic department spokesman confirmed Nanticoke had missed Saturday's game because he committed a "minor NCAA violation related to social media," but did not confirm who had flagged the social-media post as inappropriate. As support grew for Nanticoke on social media throughout Monday, an NCAA Twitter account offered a rare comment regarding one of its individual student-athletes.

"To clarify some details, Albany first reached out to the NCAA today about Tehoka Nanticoke after it withheld him from competition on Saturday," read the tweet from @InsidetheNCAA. "We are reviewing the facts submitted by the school to reach a resolution."

A UAlbany spokesman said the school's process had started Friday and that paperwork regarding the situation was finalized Monday with the NCAA, but that Nanticoke had been "deemed ineligible pending reinstatement from the NCAA."

At Monday's practice, Marr said Nanticoke had a “few things on his end” to take care of to regain eligibility, but said most of the burden was on the NCAA to complete its own look into the issue.

“They have to do their due diligence on all the millions of dollars he’s making off his stringing-stick company,” Marr said sarcastically. “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully they can get through it quickly.”

UAlbany declined to make Nanticoke available for comment after Monday’s workout at Afrim’s Sports. The sophomore scored 50 goals and had 32 assists as a freshman, and has registered three goals and an assist in two games this season.

“It was alarming. We were concerned,” UAlbany sophomore Austin Jones said of finding out Nanticoke couldn’t play last weekend. “But we’ve got a great team. Everybody here is next-man [up] mentality. You’ve just got to step up.”

UAlbany did that, but came up short at Cornell. Now at 1-2 on the season, UAlbany plays a 1-3 UMass squad that has suffered two of its losses against ranked teams.

“We’re just going with Coach’s game plan,” UAlbany junior Jakob Patterson said of the Great Danes needing to prepare for the game without knowing if Nanticoke could play. “We try to execute to the best of our ability and just stick to the fundamentals of our offense, and do everything possible to get a ‘W.’”

Marr said he had discussed with Nanticoke why there had been an infraction committed.

“He has to understand that he can’t do what he did, and understand that there’s rules and we have to follow the rules,” Marr said. “I just don’t agree with automatically taking him [away from] playing on the first offense. I don’t think that’s warranted.”

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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