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Baylor fan favorite can’t play football after no longer being homeless – Chron.com (blog)

Baylor's Silas Nacita (31) strips the ball from Kansas kick returner Darious Crawley (12) for a Bears turnover during the first half of a college football game at McLane Stadium on Nov. 1, 2014, in Waco. ( Houston Chronicle)

Baylor’s Silas Nacita (31) strips the ball from Kansas kick returner Darious Crawley (12) for a Bears turnover during the first half of a college football game at McLane Stadium on Nov. 1, 2014, in Waco. ( Houston Chronicle)

All former Baylor walk-on running back Silas Nocita ever wanted was a chance to play college football.

Nocita can’t play this spring in a situation where he claimed the NCAA had stripped him of his eligibility after he accepted shelter from a friend rather than living among the homeless.

“Because I accepted that offer instead of choosing to be homeless, I am no longer eligible to play football and pursue my dream,” Nacita said in a Twitter post. “I had no idea I was breaking any rules, but I respect the decision of the NCAA.”

Later, the NCAA tweeted that it had not ruled him eligible and Baylor has not requested a waiver for him.

The NCAA rule that Nacita thought he had broken states that players cannot receive benefits that aren’t available to other students at the university. Nacita chose to live under a roof in an apartment provided by a friend rather than roaming the streets as he had done in the past.

Baylor’s comment was direct about Nacita not being able to play.

“Silas Nacita will not be a part of the football program moving forward due to rules violations that impact his eligibility,” Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said in a prepared statement. “We appreciate his contributions to Baylor football and wish him well as he completes his studies.”

For his part, Nacita said he isn’t giving up hope.

“I’m devastated, but not defeated,” Nacita said in the post. “God is still good and I am beyond blessed to have received the opportunity I did, even if it was just a short while.

“I’m just a kid who wanted to go to school and play football. Nothing more.”

Several of his Baylor teammates and ex-teammates tweeted in support of Nacita, who became a fan favorite as a fourth-string running back and special-teams standout for the 11-2 Bears last season.

Nacita rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns last season and made nine tackles, earning the nickname “Salsa Nacho”  because that’s what it auto-corrected his name to on their iPhones.

“Who is the NCAA to take someone’s dream from them because they can’t afford to live,” Baylor All-America defensive end Shawn Oakman tweeted.

Nacita’s story received national media attention last season, detailing how he lived on couches as a senior at Bakersfield High School and earned a 4.1 grade-point average despite being disowned by his mother. He originally played football at Cornell, but moved to Baylor on the advice of friends.

After he was refused admittance to Baylor in the summer of 2013, Nacita was unable to secure a loan and instead enrolled at McLennan Community College in Waco, waiting tables at a Cheddar’s Restaurant and saving his money.

Nacita walked on at Baylor last season, sleeping on friends’ floors in Waco because he had no home. Sports Illustrated reported that he couldn’t afford his schoolbooks and studied pictures of them taken from the campus bookstore and still made Academic All-Big 12.

“In 2014, I was just a kid who couched surfed and took classes online at a community college, but I had a dream to play college football,” Nacita said. “Throughout that year, I was able to earn enough academic scholarships to pursue that dream, but it was only enough to pay for school without a place to stay or any other living expenses.

“Still, I was satisfied with that because I knew the sacrifice I was making in order to pursue that dream.”

Since Nacita’s story broke, Baylor fans have tweeted their frustration, using the hashtag #FreeTheNacho. After a couple of hours, it has already gone viral and has already received hundreds of mentions.

 

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