Over the summer, it was big news when Arsalan Kazemi, Rice's best player, and one of the preseason favorites for Conference USA player of the year, decided to transfer. The list of teams was short and Kazemi eventually landed at Oregon.
The Iranian was granted a hardship waiver, which at the time seemed strange, and gained immediate eligibility. All of this didn't make sense given that NCAA had just clarified the rules on hardship waivers.
Then the news started to leak about the exodus from the Owls being caused by racial slurs that had been directed at both Kazemi and now USC's Omar Oraby. No one was willing to talk on the record.
So this makes it a minor coup for Sports Illustrated to have obtained documents detailing the allegations leveled by the departing players at the administration, including Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan:
In his hardship waiver, Kazemi claimed that Greenspan routinely made insulting remarks based on ethnicity and religion to him, two other players (Oraby and forward Ahmad Ibrahim) and a former assistant coach (Marco Morcos) during his three years at Rice.
Kazemi still refuses to talk about it, even though it comes up in every interview now that Oregon has found its early season form again. The Ducks are set to play Louisville in the Sweet 16 on Friday night, and this article certainly won't stop more questions from being directed at the center.
Greenspan has denied all of the allegations, and the school has been reluctant to say more than that the people involved deny it and that Rice supports diversity.
But the details included make it hard to say that nothing happened here. There are too many incidents, and it isn't one student making these claims.
Anthony Ibrahim, who helped bring Kazemi to the U.S., told SI.com on Thursday that he knew about the allegations in Kazemi's waiver request and believes them to be true. "There's no reason to lie," he said.
Without Kazemi, Ibrahim and Oraby this season, the Owls were ridiculously bad, running to a 5-26 record that included a loss to a non-Division 1 team. They managed just a single victory in Conference USA.
Oregon: still dancing.