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Once-homeless Baylor player ineligible, allegedly for accepting a place to live

Walk-on Silas Nacita scored three touchdowns and made Academic All-Big 12 last season while sleeping on apartment floors and studying cell phone pictures of textbook pages.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor fans woke up Wednesday to find star defensive end Shawn Oakman upset with the NCAA for an alleged wronging of one of his teammates. The first-team All-Big 12 player took to Twitter to express frustration.

The NCAA hasn't said anything, but a bit more clarity came from ESPN's David Smoak. The player in question is walk-on running back Silas Nacita, nicknamed "Salsa Nacho" after an autocorrect incident.

Sports Illustrated profile by Ken Rodriguez during the season told Nacita's story. Despite living on couches as a senior at Bakersfield High School, he earned a 4.1 GPA and went on to play football at Cornell. The running back had tried to enroll at Baylor in summer 2013, but was refused admittance when he was unable to get a loan. He enrolled at McLennan Community College instead, waiting tables and saving up his money.

Nacita walked on at Baylor in June, homeless and hungry, sleeping on friends' floors and taking pictures of book pages from the campus store to study on his phone. He still made Academic All-Big 12. As a sophomore last season, Nacita ran 31 times for 191 yards with three touchdowns and also recorded nine tackles.

Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw released a statement.

Silas Nacita will not be a part of the football program moving forward due to rules violations that impact his eligibility. We appreciate his contributions to Baylor football and wish him well as he completes his studies.

Because he was a walk-on and not a scholarship player, room and board wasn't one of his benefits for being on the team. Our Daily Bears notes the irony:

I'm not sure what the NCAA expects athletes to do in this situation, where they don't have an athletic scholarship but are working hard to get one, beyond just not being athletes in the first place.  If he was a regular student, nobody would care where he slept or if he paid for it.  But because he's a football player and not on scholarship, he's held to a higher standard?  Unless it's the school paying for it surreptitiously in an effort to skirt the NCAA's scholarship limits, why do they even care?

Whether this is the full story or not, how NCAA rules should impact homeless players has become an issue in recent years.

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