NCAA Blocks Military Hero From Playing Out His Dreams

by Thursday, October 6, 2016
  • Isaiah Brock, an Army veteran, is ineligible to play for the NCAA because of his high school transcript.
  • Brock has been awarded five medals during his tours in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
  • He is an excellent student at Oakland University and has become a mentor and tutor for younger athletes.
  • Yet, because of where he went to high school, he can’t play on the court.

Being a soldier isn’t an easy job. Disconnected from your family, your friends, and facing death on a daily basis isn’t exactly a vacation. As hard jobs go in the military Isaiah Brock might have had the hardest one. He was assigned to the 54th Quartermaster Mortuary Affairs Company. His job was to remove and transport dead soldiers from war zones. 

Brock explained it as, “I aided in the process of returning these fallen heroes back home. So we would basically look through all of their wounds, annotate everything, go through all of their belongings, and then … you know how there’s always a transfer case and then you have a flag draped over the top of the transfer case? That’s us. That’s what we do.”

He has been stationed in Kuwait and Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Apparently, one day in Afghanistan was worse than the rest.

Brock said, “So we were on the boardwalk in Kandahar, where they have all of these stores. We work closely with Marines. So I was walking with a few Marines. And we started to hear gunfire. Then we heard an alarm go off. So we all hit the floor and locked and loaded.”

The gunfire was coming from a terrorist who had escaped a prison on the base. He was in a watchtower  and he was shooting.

“We could see the gunfire. He was right there,” Brock said.

Thankfully he survived.

It has been documented that Brock aided in the extraction of more than 30 fallen soldiers. 

Out of all this violence and death, Brock found something that he loved and gave him purpose, basketball. One day, back in 2015, Brock was honored to participate in the Hardwood Classic. It was a basketball tournament set up for soldiers by the Troops First Foundation in Kuwait. The tournament sets up soldiers with basketball coaches

Greg Kampe, the coach for Oakland University, heard about the tournament from his friend Tom Izzo, the Michigan State coach. Kampe wanted to be apart, and when the opportunity presented itself, he would offer up his services. That opportunity came just a few months later when Kampe was playing golf with Rick Kell, who works for Troops First.

Kampe said, “So I told him, ‘Next time you go, I’m in. Then he later called and told me, ‘We’re going in August if you really want in.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.'”

That’s where Kampe met Brock.

Kampe said, “We scrimmaged… team one day, and there’s this 6-foot-8 kid who actually looks like he can play a little bit. I got to talking to him, and when I found out his story I was like … wow. Here’s a guy whose job is to go into the battlefield and extract bodies. The medics go and get the wounded. The ones who are dead, it’s his job to get them out.”

Brock told Kampe that he planned on going to college after he was done with his service.

Kampe’s interest continued to grow.

Kampe said, “I just thought maybe I could bring him to Oakland and give back and help this young man get his education. He’s got the GI Bill. But that doesn’t cover him like a scholarship would. And I thought him being around my players would just be unbelievable from a leadership perspective. I wanted my players to meet him and be around him. And if he ever played basketball, that would be awesome, too. So I told him I couldn’t promise playing time. But I told him I could give him an opportunity to experience college basketball.”

That, of course, got Brock interested.

Brock enrolled in online classes, while he was still serving, and got B’s in both his classes. He was discharged from the Army in April and enrolled at Oakland University in June. He was on the right track to his dream of sports. He took two summer classes and got a B in one and an A in the other. He is now mentoring and tutoring young athletes through the school’s student-athlete advisory program.

Good grades, good kid, and a good athlete. Nothing was in his way. Until the NCAA ruled him ineligible for sports.

The reason behind his ineligibility? The High School he went to. Brock graduated from Forest Park High in Baltimore back in 2011. The same school that the 39th Vice President, Spiro Agnew, of the United States went to, as well as the film director Barry Levinson. Yet, the school has greatly receded since then. Only 70 percent of the student population graduate and only 6 percent meet the “college readiness” standard. To make a long story short, Brock didn’t have the credentials to be a qualified player for the NCAA.

Brock is a good student, and when it comes to his test scores, he does qualify to play. Yet, the NCAA is focusing on his high school transcript and using it against him.

However, Oakland plans to appeal the decision. They don’t believe someone who has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Medal, an Army Service Ribbon, and a Certificate of Achievement, should have to overcome the hurdles of a poor high school transcript.

Kampe said, “He never even thought about getting eligible out of high school. He was always just going to join the Army.”

Either way, the NCAA needs to make this wrong right.

SEE RELATED: No Safe Spaces At This School, Just Knives And Fire