A Washington area boys’ basketball standout requested a release from his national letter-of-intent at The Citadel in the aftermath of a racial incident at the South Carolina school last month.
National Christian senior Mohammed Kabir, an exchange student from Nigeria, sent a letter to the school’s athletic department and the NCAA last week in hopes of playing his college basketball elsewhere.
Kabir said in an interview he is uncomfortable with the social environment at the elite military college after photos surfaced on social media last month showing cadets singing Christmas Carols while wearing white pillowcases over their heads in costumes that resembled those worn by the Ku Klux Klan.
“It was messed up,” Kabir said. “I talked to my family and my coach about the situation, and it was not a good move for me because this is not the first time something like this has happened at The Citadel.”
Kabir signed the letter-of-intent — a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and a school — with The Citadel in November during college basketball’s early signing period. He must be granted a release to play at another school next season without losing a year of eligibility.
The Citadel has 30 days to respond to his request, according to NCAA rules, and Kabir can appeal the decision to the NCAA if he is not granted an unconditional release. If The Citadel and NCAA do not grant his request and Kabir elects to break his letter-of-intent agreement, he would be considered a transfer under NCAA rules and must sit out one year before playing for another school.
The Citadel’s president, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, called the racial incident “offensive and disturbing” in a statement issued last month and immediately suspended the cadets involved. The school has initiated an investigation that is ongoing.
“We’ve received his request to be released from his national letter-of-intent and are reviewing the matter at this time,” an athletics department spokesman said about Kabir.
Kabir initially chose to attend The Citadel in part because he went to a military school in Nigeria and liked that aspect of the Charleston college. But after consulting with his legal guardian, National Christian junior varsity Coach Shawn Harmon, and his older brother in Nigeria, Kabir decided it was no longer a good fit.
The 6-foot-3 guard is averaging nearly 17 points for No. 5 National Christian and said he has not yet been in contact with other college coaches about his recruitment.
Harmon said he reached out to The Citadel men’s basketball Coach Duggar Baucum and Athletic Director Jim Senter last month after hearing news reports of the incident and came away disappointed by their response to his concerns.
“I couldn’t send somebody else’s child into a situation I wouldn’t send my own child into,” Harmon said. “It’s nothing against [Baucum] or his basketball program, but from an institutional standpoint, there’s a problem institutionally when young men can do something like that and don’t understand the repercussions of it or how it would be perceived by somebody of color.”
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