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Men’s College Basketball | Wisconsin Badgers

Potter appealing eligibility ruling

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MADISON — Micah Potter isn’t giving up his fight to be eligible next month when the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team opens its 2019-20 season.

According to Scott Tompsett, an attorney representing the junior forward, UW has filed a request for reconsideration to the NCAA’s ruling that Potter must sit out until the end of the first semester in December.

“The NCAA says the purpose of the year-in-residence rule is to let transfer student-athletes become comfortable in their new environment,” Tompsett said in a statement. “Micah excelled academically at Ohio State and he has continued his academic excellence at Wisconsin. He does not need to sit another semester. Moreover, both Ohio State and the Big Ten Conference support Wisconsin’s request.

“I understand Wisconsin has filed a Request for Reconsideration with the NCAA asking that the NCAA reconsider its decision denying the appeal. The NCAA should grant this new request so Micah may compete immediately.

“NCAA president Mark Emmert has acknowledged that the American public has low confidence in the NCAA’s ability to govern collegiate athletics and that many people think the NCAA puts money ahead of student-athletes. Decisions like the one in this case are a major reason people think the NCAA does not place student-athlete welfare at the forefront of its decisions.”

Tompsett, of the Kansas City-based Tompsett Collegiate Sports Law, primarily represents coaches in NCAA major infractions cases. But he has represented Braxton Beverly of North Carolina State and Silvio de Sousa of Kansas in high-profile cases involving NCAA eligibility issues.

Beverly was briefly a teammate of Potter at Ohio State.

Potter joined the UW program last December after transferring from Ohio State. He decided to leave the Buckeyes a few days before the 2018-19 season opener but remained enrolled at Ohio State for the semester so he could stay on track to graduate in four years.

NCAA transfer rules require student-athletes to sit out an entire year when transferring from one Division I program to another. That’s why, in the organization’s eyes, Potter isn’t eligible to play for the Badgers until the end of the first semester.

If the NCAA’s ruling stands, Potter will be forced to sit out the first 10 games of the season before making his UW debut against UW-Milwaukee on Dec. 21.

But Potter argued to the NCAA that he has served a penalty by sitting out an entire season. Moreover, he said, the year in residence rule shouldn’t apply because he’s recorded a 3.3 grade-point average during the spring semester and summer session at UW and is on pace to graduate in May.

The waiver UW filed on Potter’s behalf included letters of support from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann and former coach Thad Matta. The Big Ten office also offered its blessing for a transfer between programs within the conference.

“On the same day the NCAA denied Wisconsin’s appeal, Senator Cory Booker, who is a 2020 presidential candidate, released his ‘Plan to End Exploitation in Sports,’ Tompsett said in his statement. “Among other things, Booker’s plan states: ‘Coaches and athletic directors can freely transfer schools without penalty, often with lucrative new deals and generous buyouts, but certain athletes cannot. Cory would crack down on unfair barriers to mobility across the economy … by making it easier for athletes to transfer schools.’

“The NCAA should take this opportunity to do the right thing and make Micah immediately eligible to compete for Wisconsin,” Tompsett added.

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