Gilchrist 'relieved' about chance to play
No school in the country has had USF's incredible success with hardship waivers for transfer athletes -- eight in football in the past four years, plus Wednesday's news on freshman forward Gus Gilchrist -- but you'll typically hear that such a waiver is hard to get without cooperation from the athlete's previous school.
Given Gilchrist's acrimonious departure from Maryland, where he took classes for just one semester, it's all the more surprising that his waiver was granted, allowing him to join the Bulls on Dec. 14, missing only six games. Back in August when Gilchrist's appeal was first filed, Maryland's senior associate athletic director, Kathy Worthington, told the Times she knew of no reason why his waiver should be granted.
Naturally, Maryland isn't happy to hear Gilchrist can play most of this season for the Bulls, effectively regaining the year of eligibility he would have lost due to the ACC's intraleague transfer policy. The Baltimore Sun had a story Thursday on Maryland's reaction to the Gilchrist news, and Worthington had this to say: "I thought the NCAA rule was in place to prevent a kid from shopping around from place to place to place. ... they are not holding Gus accountable for the ACC sit-out rule...I think they are taking a very liberal interpretation of that rule.''
Gilchrist, meanwhile, had a new level of energy at Thursday's practice, knowing that after a year away from basketball and months not knowing if he'd play this season, he has a basketball game in five weeks.
"When the coaches told me I'd gotten (the waiver), I was very excited and relieved I'd be able to play as a freshman this year," said Gilchrist, who has not been available for interviews since coming to USF. "The last five, six months, I was hoping for the best that the NCAA would come through like I knew they would, as they did. Everything seemed to come out right."
His Bulls teammates expressed a new optimism about the team's potential this season with another scoring threat to complement sophomore guard Dominique Jones. Coach Stan Heath said fans should be careful not to put too much expectations on a player who hasn't played since spring 2007.
"I think in fairness, we all have to understand this young man hasn't played in a year and a half," Heath said. "He won't be the second coming. He will help us in a lot of ways and will continue to get better. Now that we know the situation, I do think it'll help Gus focus. The biggest thing that's happened now is that he's more relaxed. He's got a weight lifted off his back and that'll help his focus in practice."