the Baller’s Almanac: August 30, 2012

It's the birthday of the greatest player not to be recognized by the NCAA. Robert Parish was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1953. The 7-0 center chose Centenary College of Louisiana to play his college ball. But due to NCAA bureaucracy, his time there was never recorded. Parish (along with four other members of his recruiting class) had taken a type of standardized test which was not accepted by the NCAA, even though students all over had previously taken the same test, including 12 former Centenary basketball players. The rulebook didn't state that the NCAA couldn't convert the test scores, but the NCAA ruled that they wouldn't. The NCAA declared that the players were ineligible, but no further actions would be taken if their scholarships were rescinded. Centenary refused.

Then the NCAA levied one of the most Draconian sanctions ever. Centenary was put on probation for six years, and in that time they were not eligible for post-season play, More so, their statistics were not recorded or reported in any fashion, and the team was not acknowledged in any NCAA paperwork.

Centenary appealed, and lost. But the NCAA immediately removed the rule from the book which caused them to be ruled ineligible. They did not, however, reinstate the players.

So Parish's career at Centenary, in which he averaged 21.6 points and 16.9 rebounds – did not officially count. The only official record of Centenary's appearance during his time there were the 14 weeks in which the media listed his team in the AP top-25.

Following his junior season the NCAA tried to block his trying out for the US National Team. Centenary arranged to get him to Salt Lake for the tryouts, where he made the team and was unanimously voted captain. He led the team to a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games.

Parish was asked why he didn't leave early for the NBA, or at least transfer to a college where he could be seen. He said, "I didn't transfer because Centenary did nothing wrong. And I have no regrets. None."

He was the 8th overall pick in the NBA draft.

Other birthdays include: Stanley Watts 1911 (BYU Coach), Pop Gates 1917 (Clark), Bruce Hale 1918 (Santa Clara), Bill Meyer 1943 (Hiram College), Ted McClain 1946 (Tennessee State), George Bruns 1946 (Manhattan), Billy Keller 1947 (Purdue), Glen Gondrezick 1955 (UNLV), Robert Reid 1955 (St. Mary's of Texas), Bernard Thompson 1962 (Fresno State), Trey Johnson 1984 (Jackson State), and Justin Harper 1989 (Richmond)