Hidden discovers setback

By Jeff Kirik

With the last of Mike Hidden’s alternatives exhausted, all the frustrated NIU basketball player can do now is wait.

Hidden, a sophomore forward who became academically ineligible last month, has failed in his bid to regain his eligibility for the fall semester. The 6-foot-5 Rockford native had hopes of getting his eligibility back because of the unusual circumstances that surrounded his case, but those hopes have proved groundless.

As a result, Hidden will miss the first six games of the Huskies’ 1989-90 season after failing to meet regulations for satisfactory progress toward a degree. However, Hidden’s situation was complicated by the fact that he was improperly advised by the NIU Athletic Counseling office.

NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell said Thursday despite evidence that the university’s Athletic Counseling Program had misguided Hidden, the athletic department would not try to regain the player’s eligibility.

“He has to meet certain academic standards,” said O’Dell, who stressed that Hidden did not meet NIU’s “institutional” regulations for satisfactory progress. “If he hasn’t made satisfactory progress, he shouldn’t play.”

However, Don Bramlett, the coordinator of the Athletic Counseling Program, said it was NCAA regulations—not institutional—that Hidden had violated. Therefore, there is no possibility for appeal, he said.

The trouble began for Hidden at the end of the spring semester, when he decided to change his major from pre-business to visual communications. Before making the move, he checked with Bramlett, who approved the change of majors.

Briefly after the beginning of the fall semester though, Bramlett realized that Hidden had fallen three credit hours short of visual communications requirements. Bramlett said Hidden would have remained eligible had he still been in the pre-business program.

“It was a mistake from my part,” Bramlett said. “It wasn’t (Hidden’s) fault.”

O’Dell said, “The only action we’re going to take is to work with the university athletic counseling department and say, ‘How do we keep this from happening in the future,’

“What concerns me is that he wasn’t advised properly, and that hurts him, and it hurts the basketball program. Those are things we are discussing with the athletic counseling office.”

Hidden, whose grade point average was above the university’s minimum for sophomore athletes, said he looked into the possibility of switching back to pre-business for the fall semester to remain eligible. But he said that idea fell through when he was told the art department would not allow to drop out and reenter the visual communications program. An appeal is also out of the question.

“I’m trying to find something good out of this,” said Hidden, “but I haven’t found anything yet.”