ATENEO is seeking the release of Hubert Cani from National University and Jerie Pingoy from Far Eastern University, now that Sen. Pia Cayetano’s bill which specifically prohibits residency rules for student athletes is on the verge of being passed into law.
With Cayetano's Student-Athletes Protection Act passed on third and final reading, Ateneo athletic director Ricky Palou said Ateneo officials will be meeting with their NU counterparts sometime next week in the hope of securing a release for Cani to make him eligible to play for the Blue Eagles this season.
“I have a meeting with NU next week para to try and convince them to release Cani,” said Palou of the crack guard, the UAAP juniors division Finals MVP last season when he led the NU Bullpups to the title.
Palou said he plans to also sit down with FEU officials to threst out the case of Pingoy, the former FEU juniors star who is in his second and final year of residency with Ateneo.
“I have to talk to FEU also but Mr. (Anton) Montinola is out of the country. But when he comes back, I’ll try to talk to him,” Palou said.
Cani is covered by the UAAP’s controversial residency rule which requires high school graduates transferring from one UAAP school to another member school for college will have to sit out two years before becoming eligible.
Athletes covered by the residency rule can immediately play if granted a release by his or her previous school.
Cani has yet to publicly declare where he is heading for college although he has reportedly joined the Blue Eagles in practices, tune-up games, and even during their recent training in the United States.
Palou, who also sits in the UAAP board as Ateneo’s representative, said the school is actually trying to convince other league members to release all athletes covered by the controversial residency rule, now that the Cayetano bill is set to become a law.
The bill includes a provision that prohibits school leagues from imposing residency period for athletes. Once it is enacted into law, the two-year residency rule of the UAAP will immediately be scrapped.
“Sa amin, we are trying to talk to the other universities na i-release na sila (athletes) so that we can go back to Senator Pia and say we don’t need the law because we have done what you want from us,” said Palou.
“There is still time kasi nakikipag-usap kami sa ibang universities for the release of these players. Kami naman sa Ateneo, wala naman kaming hindi rine-release. As far as we are concerned, our stand is we will release anybody who wants to look for another university,” he added.
Palou said he is not in favor of passing the Student-Athletes Protection Act since he believes the collegiate leagues are capable of policing themselves.
“I don’t think the universities are amenable to having the law passed on this issue. Once it becomes a law, batas na ‘yun. Pero what if in the future the law becomes obsolete? I don’t think it should be a law," he said.
“What the universities should do is talk among themselves and come up with the reforms that Senator Pia wants, which is the logical thing to do.”
But once the law is passed, Palou said the UAAP has no choice but to declare as eligible all athletes who are undergoing residency.
“Ang sa amin, we have no choice but to follow. They can play already,” said Palou.