Amid threats directed at NCAA committee members over the denial of immediate eligibility to Tarheels receiver Tez Walker, the D-I Board of Directors on Wednesday issued a statement addressing the matter.
"The NCAA is aware of violent – and possibly criminal – threats recently directed at committee members involved in regulatory decisions," the statement began."The national office is coordinating with law enforcement and will continue to do whatever possible to support the volunteers who serve on these committees."
A committee of NCAA Division I representatives denied Walker's final effort at eligibility for the 2023 season on Thursday.
According to ABC News, Walker, who previously was enrolled at NC Central and Kent State, believes he should be allowed to play this year for two reasons. He was unable to play at NC Central because the pandemic canceled the season, and transferred to Kent State. Walker also cites mental health reasons for his decision to transfer from Kent State to North Carolina to be closer to his Charlotte home and his grandmother.
After the ruling was handed down last week, NC head coach Mack Brown expressed his frustration with the decision.
"I don't know that I've ever been more disappointed in a person, a group of people, or an institution than I am with the NCAA right now," Brown said. "It's clear that the NCAA is about process and it couldn't care less about the young people it's supposed to be supporting. Plain and simple, the NCAA has failed Tez and his family and I've lost all faith in its ability to lead and govern our sport."
The full statement, which is signed by Jere Morehead, chair of D-I Board and president at University of Georgia, and Christopher Pietruszkiewicz, vice chair of D-I Board and president at University of Evansville, can be read below:
"The NCAA is aware of violent – and possibly criminal – threats recently directed at committee members involved in regulatory decisions. The national office is coordinating with law enforcement and will continue to do whatever possible to support the volunteers who serve on these committees.
The statement said 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 DI Board last year directed the DI Council to refine the guidelines for transfer waivers and apply those guidelines to the 2023-24 academic year. 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.
Academic data demonstrates that transferring typically slows student-athletes' progress toward a degree, especially with those who transfer later. It stands to reason that multiple transfers would further slow time to a degree. Citing extenuating factors, such as mental health, does not necessarily support a waiver request but instead may, in some situations, suggest a student-athlete should be primarily focused on addressing those critical issues during the initial transition to a third school.
The DI Board Administrative Committee was briefed Monday on the current status of transfer waivers for this academic year. There are 21,685 student-athletes who entered the transfer portal this year. The bulk of those transfer students are first-time transfers who enrolled at their first schools and are now immediately eligible to compete at their new schools – which was the intent of the transfer rule change. Of those who entered the portal, 3% would be multiple time transfers who would require a waiver to compete immediately for this academic year if enrolled at a new school.
The DI Board is troubled by the public remarks made last week by some of the University of North Carolina leadership. Those comments directly contradict what we and our fellow Division I members and coaches called for vociferously – including UNC's own football coach. 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."