Muslim Wrestler Gets OK From NCAA To Compete With Beard

The NCAA has granted a Muslim wrestler from the University at Buffalo a waiver to compete with a beard, the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Monday.

Muhamed McBryde will be able to participate in matches for the 2014-15 season as long as he wears a face mask and chin strap to cover his facial hair, according to CAIR.

NCAA rules do not allow wrestlers to wear beards, but they are permitted in international competition.

"It's great to see the NCAA respect individuals in their personal beliefs," Sadyia Khalique, director of operations for CAIR's New York chapter, told The Huffington Post.

After being contacted by McBryde's family, CAIR provided the university with a letter and asked the school to send the letter to the NCAA along with the official waiver request, Khalique said. The school set the paperwork in motion Jan. 31 and actually received the accommodation in April, according to the Buffalo News.

My religion says you’re supposed to keep a beard,” McBryde explained to the paper.

Before he was informed in December that he could no longer compete with a beard, McBryde won 7 matches and lost 5 in the 157-pound class, the paper noted. He finished eighth at the 2013 New York State College Wrestling Championships in November.

Even with the exception for next season, McBryde, a 17-year-old pre-med junior who earned a junior college associate degree at age 16, told the Buffalo News he had his college priorities straight: “I didn’t go to UB for wrestling first. School takes precedence."