NCAA troubled by UNC criticism of handling of Walker waiver, says committee members received threats
Tue, Sep 12, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
The NCAA Board of Directors said Tuesday it is "troubled" by North Carolina's public criticism of the decision to deny an eligibility waiver to Tar Heels transfer receiver Tez Walker, adding that some committee members have received threats of violence.
The statement comes less than a week after North Carolina said the NCAA had denied appeal efforts for immediate eligibility for Walker, an announcement that included pointed criticism from both Tar Heels coach Mack Brown and athletic director Bubba Cunningham.
In his statement, Brown said he had "lost all faith" in the NCAA's ability to govern college football, then ended by saying: "Shame on you, NCAA. SHAME ON YOU!"
"Those comments directly contradict what we and our fellow Division I members and coaches called for vociferously - including UNC's own football coach," said the statement from Georgia President Jere Morehead, the DI board chairman, and Evansville president Christopher Pietruszkiewicz, the vice chairman. "We are a membership organization, and rather than pursue a public relations campaign that can contribute to a charged environment for our peers who volunteer on committees, we encourage members to use established and agreed upon procedures to voice concerns and propose and adopt rule or policy changes if they are dissatisfied"
The NCAA said the national office in Indianapolis is coordinating with law enforcement to deal with possibly criminal threats against committee members. NCAA regulatory committees are comprised of administrators from the association's more than 1,100 member schools.
NCAA rules allow players to transfer without sitting out a year once while they are undergraduates. Because Walker has transferred twice, he needed a waiver to play this season.
Brown has said Walker had struggled emotionally both amid the uncertainty of his status in recent weeks and now after the final denial. On Monday, Brown attended an emergency meeting of the school's board of trustees and he said would discuss options for how the school could support Walker.
Walker enrolled at North Carolina Central before ending up at Kent State. The Eagles didn't play football because of the COVID-19 pandemic during Walker's time at North Carolina Central, so he has played two seasons at Kent State. Walker enrolled at UNC in January days before a rule change that restricted free movement by two-time transfers while applying a case-by-case evaluation.
The NCAA announced last year that it was tightening the waiver process.
"The Division I Board of Directors believes that NCAA staff and the committee are applying transfer waiver guidelines as intended by member schools and giving proper and full consideration to individual cases, including consulting a panel of licensed mental health experts for cases in which mental health is cited as a reason for transfer," the board said Tuesday. "These new guidelines were supported unanimously by all 32 Division I conferences in January, and prior to that were widely supported by member schools and coaches associations."
Still, the NCAA's stance has drawn criticism, including during the ABC national broadcast of UNC's opener and even from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
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