I have been following the heated discussion in Gameface regarding the new rule to be implemented in the UAAP in upcoming Season 70, slated this July. The rule, now branded by amateur basketball aficionados as the “Rivera Rule,” will now require UAAP athletes from the junior division, who opt to play for another UAAP school to sit out their freshman year and serve a one year residency requirement. Talks from the grapevine reveal that this rule sprouted out of the incident in the FEU Tamaraws camp when Socrates “Soc” Rivera, star player of the FEU Baby Tamaraws, has crossed over to the UP Maroons to continue his collegiate playing career there, despite objections from the FEU management.
The said rule has created an uproar from all corners of the league, raising the right of an athlete to freely choose which school he or she chooses to play and study, saying that a student-athlete is considered released from his/her obligation to the school upon graduation. Others say that this rule will enhance the development of the grassroots program of the UAAP juniors teams in keeping their prized players to be lined-up in their seniors basketball team.
The rule, however, admits of an exception. It says that the athlete may be allowed to transfer to a rival UAAP school if he or she secures the approval of his/her former school. Many observers pointed out the parallelism to Rivera’s case, thus raising allegations that Anton Montinola, representative of FEU to the UAAP Board and FEU Tamaraws Team Manager, may have had a hand in the immediate implementation of this rule for the upcoming season, so as to affect Rivera’s chances to transfer to his desired school.
As an ill effect of this policy, prospective UAAP rookies coming from UAAP junior teams may opt to transfer to NCAA or other non-UAAP teams to avoid the 1 year residency requirement, or may have no other choice but to remain in their schools at the moment. If this will apply in Rivera’s case, it may be possible for Soc Rivera to run back to the Lions’ Den where he was part of the Red Cubs for a time. But up and until both the NCAA and the UAAP kick off, nothing is ever sure.