Florida's Chris Walker granted eligibility by NCAA
Nearly two months after he was admitted to the University of Florida, Gators F Chris Walker has been cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
His first game in which he is eligible to play is Feb. 4 - a 9 p.m., nationally-televised, home game vs. Misouri.
But the NCAA made it clear Walker violated NCAA rules before he was admitted, which led to him being forced to miss playing time.
According to a statement from the NCAA: "Men’s basketball student-athlete Chris Walker will be eligible to play for the University of Florida on Feb. 4 after sitting a total of 12 games, or 40 percent of the 2013-14 basketball season. Walker received preferential treatment from five people, including two agents."
The statement went on to say: "According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university and NCAA staff, when Walker was a prospect, he accepted free cell phones and service, airfare, lodging, meals and apparel. Additionally, individuals close to Walker received free airfare and lodging for nine different trips, including eight associated with Walker's non-scholastic basketball team competitions."
The NCAA has ordered Walker to donate the $270 he received from the agents to a charity of his choice and serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.
“We’re glad there’s a resolution for everyone involved, especially for Chris," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We appreciate everyone’s participation in this process and are ready to move forward.”
Anticipation for Walker to take the court has been building for weeks since he was admitted to the university. What he'll be able to provide for the Gators remains to be seen, but Donovan said he's made great progress since he began practicing with the team in December.
“He’s more prepared then he was a couple weeks ago," he said. "I think the biggest adjustment he’s made is just having a better feel for what we’re doing defensively and offensively. When you walk into a situation where we have 60 different offensive sets and he doesn’t know one of them I mean that’s a long way to have to come so there’s certain concepts and things that he’s got to get under his belt which he’s done a better job of figuring out and improving on, but you know we’re spending a lot of extra time with him. . . I think having a better feel and understanding for what we’re doing has been the biggest jump that he’s made."
"I appreciate all the support from UF, Coach Donovan and my teammates, and I'm looking forward to helping the team any way I can," Walker said.