Every season, there seems to be at least one player whose academic eligibility gets dragged out throughout the summer.
This summer, the man in the spotlight is Florida big man Chris Walker.
The 6-foot-10 Walker, who was a top ten recruit thanks to some high-flying athleticism that allowed him to win the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest, decided not to bail on the guardian and the high school that had been loyal to him throughout high school.
His grades weren’t as good as they should be, and remaining at the smaller high school meant that he would be working with guidance counselors and teachers that aren’t accustomed to having to navigate the NCAA’s Eligibility Center. As a result, Walker’s been working on improving his ACT and taking classes this summer to try and get himself eligible.
According to this report, Walker has already been ruled ineligible, but that information appears to be incorrect. And thanks to John Infante, we have some clarity as to why:
For a prospect to absolutely be a nonqualifier in July, it would need to be one of a couple situations. The prospect would need to be more than one credit short of the core course requirements, or be so short of the required GPA based on his or her test core that they cannot get their grades up using the exception that allows one core course credit earned after graduation.
It’s true that Walker is rapidly running out of chances to qualify by August. But even that is not a guarantee at this time. He could still take another summer school or online course to try and boost his GPA before Florida starts school on August 21 (even going a week or so past that date is a possibility).
And if Walker still has not qualified by the start of Florida’s fall semester, he can still try and qualify by January. That actually gives him more options, since in addition to continuing to take postgraduate courses he could also register for one of the three SATs or three ACTs offered during the fall. Assuming that Walker’s issue is just a GPA/test score sliding scale shortfall, this could theoretically go on indefinitely, as long as he does not enroll in a collegiate institution.
The way that Infante explains it, players don’t get ruled ineligible permanently. Instead, they are labeled as qualifiers, partial qualifiers and non-qualifiers, and it’s all a sliding scale. Qualifiers can play immediately on scholarship, partial qualifiers essentially have to take an academic redshirt (think Ben McLemore), and non-qualifiers are ineligible for athletically-related financial aid, practice and competition during their first year in school. They can play out their career, however, and will even get back their fourth year of eligibility if they complete 80% of their degree by their fifth-year in college.
So at this point, the idea that Walker is completely ineligible to play at Florida seems unlikely.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.