UAAP allowing players with special guest license from other leagues

UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag. –UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The UAAP has added a new rule allowing student-athletes from other collegiate leagues, who played professionally with a special guest license (SGL) from the Games and Amusement Board, to still play in the basketball competition after a one-year residency.

The league’s executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag announced that other athletes from the NCAA and other collegiate leagues, who have already played in the professional ranks through the SGL, are allowed to play in the UAAP but with limitations.

“This is something new, the re-acquisition of the eligibility, or as we call it, amateur status, to go back to basketball in particular, but there are,” Saguisag said in Filipino in the Season 86 press conference on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena. “One is that you have to sit out one year of residency. Number two, the number of years you played as a professional will be counted also as playing years.”

However, UAAP remained defiant of its rule that if a student-athlete from its eight schools plays in pro leagues like the PBA, Premier Volleyball League and the Philippines Football League even with the SGL, he or she can no longer regain his or her eligibility.

“Number three and most importantly, you must not have enrolled in a UAAP member school prior to turning pro because the reasoning there is, if you already played in one of these eight member schools you are constructively notified,” Saguisag said. “You are playing for NU, for example, then you decide to have an SGL, and your team has been advised and studied the repercussions together with your coaches. I hope that’s clear.”

“You may not be earning [professionally] with SGL. But your participation in a professional league will render you ineligible. You’re not necessarily pro, but you’re ineligible to further participate in the UAAP. One of the reasons is not just because you’re earning, but in our eyes, you gain undue advantage,” he added.

Saguisag said that the league will evaluate its stand for other events as the eligibility rules are basketball-centric as they are also allowing the chess student-athletes to still play in the UAAP due to the status of the sport’s pro leagues in the country.

“For now, we still maintain that we will not recognize the special guest licenses as far as the PBA is concerned. With the other sports that are not similarly situated, we will consider. Evaluating our stance on those sports which are not exactly the same as the PBA. The thing is, we realize the rules tend to be basketball-centric, and we have come up with different permutations per sporting event per division which will be evaluated,” the executive director said.

“Maganda kasi tinahi yung chess. By nature, iba yung chess na maraming professional leagues that are self-stand, professional leagues ng chess na wala namang sweldo yung mga bata, walang lisensya mga bata. So why will they have to play similarly? In short, even without the SGL, if you participate in professional chess leagues na di naman talaga professional, you may be able to participate in the UAAP,” he added.


LeBron Lopez UP Fighting Maroons


In the case of the University of the Philippines newcomer Francis Lebron Lopez, who signed a contract with American pro league Overtime Elite in 2021 but never played, Saguisag said that the board unanimously agreed since the incoming rookie was able to show the documents and evidence and never received any complaint from any member school.

“Documents were reviewed. Documents and available evidence to us were reviewed, and it was found by the eligibility committee and approved by the Board of Managing Directors that he was eligible. According to internal rules and procedure, wala namang complaint from any member school filed and substantiated by evidence,” he said. “It was a collective decision by the board, not just for him, but for other hundreds of student-athletes who were approved. Siya lang yung medyo high-profile, if you may. Walang evidence that he violated any eligibility rule.”

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“He’s cleared to play this season, yes. For as long as he has the playing years. Unless there’s really countervailing evidence that would surface in the future. What we all know is that he was not able to leave the Philippines, much less play in any league. Even the status of the said league has yet to be established. People call it professional, but what really is it? Even that has to be carefully studied.”

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