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Superintendents sign to allow Arkansas commitment Nick Smith Jr. to play

By: Richard Davenport Richard Davenport's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Arkansas basketball commit Nick Smith watches the Razorbacks' Red-White game on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, during the first half of play at Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville.
( David Beach )
Arkansas basketball commit Nick Smith watches the Razorbacks' Red-White game on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, during the first half of play at Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville.

The superintendents of North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School Districts in a joint statement announced both have signed the appropriate documentation with the Arkansas Activities Association to allow a student-athlete to play basketball for the Charging Wildcats for the 2021-2022 season.

ESPN 5-star prospect and North Little Rock guard Nick Smith Jr., an Arkansas commitment, is the student-athlete in question.

He transferred to North Little Rock after playing the previous three seasons at Sylvan Hills. Smith was recently ruled ineligible to play basketball this season after a AAA member school reported a violation.

Smith had been working with trainers since the sixth and the seventh grades who volunteered with the Charging Wildcats basketball program in the past.

Because the school did not have the trainers sign an Athletic Release Form stating who they had trained when they started their affiliation with the school, Smith was ruled ineligible for the upcoming season.

Page 35 and section E of the AAA handbook reads, "A student transferring, moving, or for any reason attending a new school where the student's non-school coach is a school coach, or is anyone assisting in any capacity with the coaching or training of the school team, is presumed to be attending for athletic purposes if the student participated in athletics the previous year.”

The superintendents signed the Changing Schools/Athletic Participation [CSAP] document, stating that the student was not recruited and did not change schools for athletic purposes. The rule to allow the superintendents to allow Smith to play this season is found on Page 35, section G, of the AAA handbook.

The joint statement read the superintendents extensively conferred with AAA and after additional conversations over the last two days, it became apparent the AAA is not prepared to resolve this issue. Both school districts agreed there were violations of AAA rules but have determined this was at no fault of the student-athlete or family.

The statement also read the entire process uncovered several concerns related to AAA rules, procedures, systems and accountability structure. There is a significant lack of clarity which causes confusion and inconsistent interpretations and then listed several concerns.

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