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Notre Dame Football: Malik Zaire Didn’t Qualify To Play Harvard Football

A postscript commentary on Zaire’s transfer coverage.

Notre Dame v Virginia Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

“My top schools where I want to apply to are Oxford and The Sorbonne. But my safety is Harvard.” - Max Fischer, “Rushmore”

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list.” - Anwar Richardson, Orange Bloods

Former Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire is expected to be part of the Florida Gators soon, although neither the program nor the university have officially announced that yet.

That part is old news. But here’s something that never got covered: Despite someone in Zaire’s camp telling Orange Bloods’ Anwar Richardson that the Harvard Crimson were in the mix, that’s impossible.

Yale v Harvard Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Ivy League schools don’t allow graduate students to play sports, with one exception. A student-athlete who completes their undergraduate degree at an Ivy League school in fewer than four years may play during their graduate year at that same university.

Zaire would never been eligible to play for the Crimson. The Ivy League’s Compliance and Governance office confirmed Thursday that I was interpreting the rule correctly.

The Ivy League’s prohibition against graduate students dates back more than 60 years. In 1954, eight Ivy League institutions created an agreement to govern their participation in intercollegiate competition.

“Intercollegiate competition in organized athletics offers desirable development and recreation for players and a healthy focus of collegiate loyalty,” the pact said. “These conditions require that the players shall be truly representative of the student body and not composed of a group of specially recruited athletes. They further require that undue strain upon players and coaches be eliminated and that they be permitted to enjoy the game as participants in a form of recreational competition rather than as professional performers in public spectacles. In the total life of the campus, emphasis upon intercollegiate competition must be kept in harmony with the essential educational purposes of the institution.”

The following rules were established, none of which Zaire would meet:

  • “No student shall be eligible for a varsity team in more than three different academic years.”
  • “No student shall be eligible for a varsity team until he has completed satisfactorily an academic year’s work at the institution he is to represent.”
  • “Only undergraduate students shall be eligible for a varsity team.”

Certainly, those rules have been modified since they were first established. However, Harvard’s student-athlete handbook for this year says: “Harvard rules state that your seasons of competition must be completed within a period of eight semesters (or “terms”) of actual attendance. ... Unlike most Division I schools, the Ivy League does not permit student-athletes to extend their stay at Harvard beyond 8 terms for athletic reasons (i.e. to use one of the 5 seasons solely for a practice opportunity).”