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How Isaac Haas can get eligible for the rest of the NCAA tournament (if Purdue even lets him play)

Haas needs an elbow brace that fits the rulebook (which just got changed in his favor).

Cal State Fullerton v Purdue Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Purdue has already declared 7’2 center Isaac Haas out for the remainder of the NCAA tournament with a fractured right elbow. Haas broke the elbow during the Boilermakers’ first-round win against Cal State Fullerton, apparently ending his college career.

Coach Matt Painter has continually poured water on the idea of a Haas return. He said before Purdue’s second-round win over Butler that he didn’t see Haas participating. Painter was right, as Haas’ sat out the win that punched the Boilers’ ticket to the Sweet 16.

But Haas tried to play in that Sunday game. He practiced the day before — after Purdue had already ruled him out — and was putting up shots in warmups about an hour before tip.

It’s not clear if Haas would’ve been able to do anything in the game, or if Painter would’ve let him do anything other than sit on the bench. It didn’t matter, because the NCAA ruled the brace Haas had on his elbow wasn’t up to snuff with the rulebook.

A spokesman said:

So, let’s go to the rulebook.

UPDATE: The NCAA changed its rule on braces in advance of Purdue’s Sweet Sixteen game against Texas Tech, in effect clearing Haas to play with a bulky, padded elbow brace. Here’s how NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt explained the reform to Andy Katz.

With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority. Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.

Here’s what has to happen for the NCAA to allow Haas to play.

One option would be not to wear a brace. But that’s ridiculous, because Haas has a broken elbow. Some would say it’s ridiculous that he’s trying anyway, but the removal of the brace won’t happen.

So, Haas’ brace needs to be compliant with NCAA specs. Here are the relevant regulations, as they’re written out in the rulebook:

The referee shall not permit any player to wear equipment that in his or her judgment is dangerous to other players.

He can’t wear an Iron Man arm with a retractable gun.

Elbow, hand, finger, wrist or forearm guards, casts or braces made of fiberglass, plaster, metal, or any other nonpliable substance, shall be prohibited.

It has to be soft. Haas can’t wear a literal cast on the court.

The prohibition of the use of hard substance material does not apply to the upper arm, shoulder or leg when the material is padded so as not to create a hazard for other players.

This doesn’t seem relevant. Haas’ warmup brace before the Butler game cut off before it got too close to his shoulder, and his injury is to the elbow.

Pliable (flexible or easily bent) material, covered on all exterior sides and edges with not less than 1/2-inch thickness of a slow-rebounding foam, may be used to immobilize and protect an injury.

No bubble wrap. Haas’ brace needs to at least a half-inch thick.

Equipment that could cut or cause an injury to another player shall be prohibited, without respect to whether the equipment is hard.

This part is subjective, so the NCAA wields enormous power to decide whether any brace Haas brings to them is legal. Everything else is straightforward, but this might be tricky.

Excessively long fingernails shall be prohibited.

This seems reasonable.

Purdue is working on a solution. As in, Purdue engineering students.

Purdue is known for its engineering program. When Haas’ brace issue came to public light, some people joked on Twitter that some of the school’s science students might get to work on Haas’ case. Well, that is actually happening, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier:

Painter was asked Monday — half-jokingly, it seemed — about whether some Purdue engineering students might try and come up with a solution, Painter said he heard “they might be trying to do that.”

The Journal & Courier confirmed that Purdue sports medicine has reached out to Purdue mechanical engineering about working on a solution. Doug Boersma, associate athletic director for sports medicine, declined comment, citing student-athlete medical privacy laws.

Don’t you love the Big Ten?

Haas appears to still be working on finding the right fit:

But all that effort might be for nothing, because it’s still up to the coach.

And Painter is unconvinced Haas can or should play.

“You fracture your elbow, it’s really hard,” Painter said. “It makes for good conversation because he wants to play. I think that’s a good sign — that he wants to play.

”I don’t think the key is him getting some other apparatus that gets approved by the NCAA. You’ve still got to be able to shoot a right-handed free throw. You’ve got to be able to rebound with two hands. You’ve got to be able to catch the ball.”

Fair, but here’s a shot (in the corner, in the top left photo) of Haas in uniform at a Purdue practice on Wednesday:

It will be an upset if Haas plays another minute this season, but he’s not the only guy in West Lafayette who’s working hard to make it happen.