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Potential NCAA Rules Violation Stopped Zack Mahoney From Raising Money to Fight Cancer

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This is silly.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday,'s Chris Carlson wrote about the unfortunate turn of events that prevented Syracuse Orange QB Zack Mahoney from raising money to fight a rare form of brain cancer.

Basically, Mahoney was asking fans to make donations, letting the highest donor cut his hair any way they wanted. It was a show of solidarity with seven-year old Lillian Belfield, who's been a big part of Syracuse's annual "Lift for Life" summer event which looks to raise awareness and funds to fight rare diseases. Belfield needed to go through new treatment, and Mahoney was hoping to use this year's Lift for Life as a way to brighten her spirits, show support and raise some awareness and money to help.

The fuzzy rules around what constitutes an NCAA violation shut the idea down just two weeks before the event. Said rules are so fuzzy that Mahoney still doesn't know which ones the event would've even violated.

For what it's worth (something?), Syracuse interim athletic director/SVP/general counsel/head of compliance Dan French says it was more about the timing of that element of the proposal than anything else. As he told Carlson:

"Internally there was a miscommunication. These types of events are supported. The overall package was approved. The plans for (the haircut) aspect didn't make it to us in the paperwork. If we'd have known earlier we would have likely approved it."

I'll take "likely" as a good sign. And Mahoney does too, which is why he'll resubmit next year.

Once again, this puts a very bright light on just how convoluted NCAA rules and regulations are. And how legalese overrides common sense within the letter of the law. Mahoney, subject to the rules of amateurism despite not being a scholarship player, wanted to use his status on the team to raise money for a disease (and specifically, a little girl with said disease). The NCAA's rulebook acted as the boogeyman and scared off Syracuse from allowing it to happen. Syracuse isn't in the wrong here, as they're looking out for the school, its athletic programs and Mahoney's eligibility. Stopping a fundraiser from happening ends up being a product of it policing itself on a account of an overbearing, long list of regulations.


In the best news here, Carlson reports that Belfield did not lose her hair as a result of her most recent treatment, and did get to enjoy the team's Lift for Life event with her sister and of course, Otto.