TAMPA — USF's basketball program should know in the next three weeks if freshman power forward Gus Gilchrist will be eligible this season.
Coach Stan Heath said Wednesday that USF has submitted a hardship waiver for the 6-foot-10 Gilchrist to the NCAA, petitioning to allow him to play rather than sit out a season as normally required for transfers.
"We think this kid is a good kid who deserves an opportunity to gain his eligibility," Heath said.
Gilchrist joined USF this summer after one semester at Maryland, saying he was unaware of an ACC policy requiring athletes to surrender a season of eligibility when transferring within the league. Gilchrist, who would have had 21/2 seasons with the Terps, first signed with Virginia Tech but requested a release after the 2007 shootings there.
Kathy Worthington, Maryland's senior associate athletic director, said she was "fully confident (Gilchrist and his family) were aware of the conference rule" when they chose Maryland. Asked if there were circumstances that should result in the waiver being granted, she said "not that I know of."
Timetable for a response from the NCAA is typically 2-3 weeks. USF has had success in getting hardship waivers for football players, seven in the past three seasons, but typically there is some kind of family illness cited.
The news on Gilchrist comes one day after USF announced that his personal trainer and adviser, Terrelle Woody, had been hired as a "video and conditioning assistant," a $30,000 position that does not include benefits.
Heath defended the hire Tuesday, saying he had known Woody, 38, before Gilchrist's recruitment, he was qualified for the job and had impressed him while working in his summer camps. He said it's presumptive to believe Woody got the job because of his relationship with Gilchrist.
"I don't think that's a reason to hire somebody, but I don't think it's a reason to not hire somebody," Heath said. "The important thing is his ability to help this program."
NCAA rules only prohibit a high school or prep coach being hired contingent upon a player signing. But the NCAA plans to be more aggressive in checking on situations in which a family member or close associate of a recruit is hired in the same time frame as the athlete choosing a school.
"We recognize there's a definite issue with package hires," spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said. "That said, it is very difficult at times to prove that these hires are specifically for the intent to secure a prospective student-athlete. However, that doesn't mean the enforcement staff is going to turn a blind eye."