Baylor Football
Baylor Bears football player, Silas Nacita, went from being homeless to a a walk on player for the program. He was suspended from the team permanently earlier this week for receiving housing benefits from family friends. Sarah Glenn / Getty Images Sport

Allow me to paint you a picture… you’re a 20-year old college football player without a dime to your name. You have no job, no scholarship, just a dream to play college football and graduate from a major university. After a year at McLennan Community College in Waco, TX you walk on to the Baylor University football team; one of the top college football programs in the country.

In your first season you rush for 191 yards and three touchdowns while averaging a staggering 6.2 yards per carry. You become a local sensation as Bears fans wear sombreros and luchador masks to honor your nickname, “Salsa Nacho!” But, despite your success on the field you still don’t have a dollar to your name, or a place to lay your head. You drift from apartment floor to apartment floor and even spend weeks sleeping underneath the stairs at a local park.

You fuel your 5 foot 10 inch, 200-pound body with Powerbars and sandwiches from the NCAA’s unlimited snack rule, and when you do manage to get a few bucks in your pocket you spend it on rice and beans that can stretch your meals out over a week. One day, family friends in Bakersfield, CA hear about your story and offer to provide you with financial support in order to get you a small off-campus apartment and some food on your table, you accept. Then one day while attending classes and preparing for the spring football season, you are called into the Athletic Director’s office and told you are being suspended from the football team indefinitely. Your dreams are over.

Does this picture sound more like a nightmare than a dream? If so, welcome to the life of a Silas Nacita. Nacita was ruled ineligible earlier this week for violating NCAA rules. According to Baylor’s Athletic Director Ian McCaw, Nacita broke NCAA rules by accepting funds from his family friends in order to provide him with an apartment to live in.

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

As of now, Nacita’s dream of playing football is over. Ever since, Reggie Bush’s housing debacle at USC led to the largest punishment in NCAA history, universities do not mess around when it comes to NCAA rules violations. Nacita admitted on Saturday that he is now aware of his violations and apologized to the university and its fans. The 21-year-old admitted he did not know at the time that he was violating the NCAA rules and has no idea how things will turn out moving forward.

“I don’t know what will happen next,” he said. “I’m just waiting. I was hoping to get a football scholarship. But that is out of the question now.”

Nacita, who did not even have enough money to afford books, earned all-academic honors as a general studies major last fall. He survived his rigorous classes, even at times excelling in them by taking pictures of fellow classmates’ books with his camera phone and studying them off the screen. He admitted to reporter, Ken Rodriguez that he survived from a small federal loan and the money from his family friends in Bakersfield.

“I did use the money, but it wasn’t enough to cover for the entire year,” he told in a phone interview. “They started helping me in May of 2014 with food and living. They were like, ‘How are you going to get your next meal?’ and that’s what they did.”

As of now, Nacita’s future is uncertain. He is still enrolled at the university and is attending classes daily in hopes to get his degree next year. When asked about his star player, Bears coach, Art Briles, hinted that Nacita might be able to return at some point. But as of now, his departure from the team is permanent. You can read more about Nacita’s story from homeless student to college football star on, and you can join the social media campaign to get him reinstated, created by Baylor students on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #FreetheNacho.

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