Eric McKnight was unable to get the waiver he needed to play immediately at Tennessee, but he has found a landing spot for his final season of college.
McKnight will be heading to Long Beach State next season, according to a report from the Knoxville News Sentinel. A spokesperson for the 49ers could not confirm that McKnight had joined the program.
The 6-foot-9 forward has bounced around during his college career. He started out at Iowa State before transferring to Florida-Gulf Coast. After sitting out a season, he was a part of the Dunk City team that made a run to the 2013 Sweet 16. He played with the Eagles last season but was suspended twice during the year.
After the season, McKnight transferred out of the school. He initially committed to Tennessee, and while the NCAA granted him the graduate transfer waiver that he needed to play immediately, he was unable to get that waiver from the SEC. Since McKnight had already transferred during his college career, he was ineligible for the graduate transfer exemption and thus needed the waiver.
Tennessee’s new head coach Donnie Tyndall was looking for graduate transfer Eric McKnight to combat the losses of Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon on the Volunteer’s frontline. However, Tennessee received unfortunate news on Tuesday, as McKnight’s waiver to play this season was denied by the SEC.
McKnight played three seasons at Florida Gulf Coast, a member of 2013’s Sweet 16 team. He decided to transfer to Tennessee back on May 12. The NCAA granted McKnight a waiver, but according to the Times Free-Press, the SEC denied his initial waiver and his appeal. In June, the SEC lifted the ban on graduate transfers, but those student-athletes still had to meet a certain criteria such as remaining in good academic standing at their previous school, earning all APR points, and having no disciplinary infractions.
He was suspended for six games in October due to a violation of team or school policy.
“We have been informed that Eric McKnight has been denied the graduate transfer waiver by the SEC,” Tyndall said in a statement. “We pursued this issue through the proper protocol, and I respect the process. Although we are disappointed that Eric will not be joining our program, we are focused on moving forward.”
Tyndall got to work quickly when he was hired to replace Cuonzo Martin. He landed JuCo recruits Devon Baulkman and Kevin Punters, as well as graduate transfer Ian Chiles and four-star guard Detrick Mostella. The Vols front court, which will be without Rawane Ndiaye this season, will expect production from newcomers Willie Carmichael, Jabari McGhee and Tariq Owens.
The 6-foot-9 McKnight averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Eagles during the 2013-2014 season.
Florida Gulf Coast starting center Eric McKnight has been suspended the first six games of the 2013-14 season according to a report from The News-Press.
The 6-foot-8 redshirt junior was suspended due to an issue involving team or school policy and Eagles’ head coach Joe Dooley told the News-Press that the incident occurred before his time as Florida Gulf Coast head coach began.
“Eric’s disappointed. I think he’s disappointed in himself,” Dooley told the News-Press. “But he’s been outstanding in regaining his status on the team. He’s grown up as much as any kid I’ve been around in a short period of time. He’s trying hard. … I’m convinced he’s learned his lesson.”
McKnight, a former Iowa State transfer, has also been suspended before. He was held out of the three-game exhbition trip to The Bahamas before the 2012-13 season in which he started 34 of 37 games for the Eagles.
The center averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds for Florida Gulf Coast and because he’s one of only nine scholarship players eligible on the team this season, it hurts the Eagles depth quite a bit.
Georgia Tech transfer and 6-foot-10 center Nathan Hicks is likely to see some of McKnight’s minutes and forward Chase Fieler will also likely play some center, according to Dooley.
McKnight should return for the December 1st contest against Iona.