WKU’s Fant, Price ruled ineligible for four more games

Freshman guard T.J. Price, pictured, and freshman forward George Fant have been suspended six games by the NCAA based on paperwork problems with their summer employment. WKU plans to appeal to decision.

Cole Claybourn

Freshman forward George Fant and freshman guard T.J. Price will have to sit out four more games due to a violation of NCAA rules regarding their summer employment, according to a statement released by WKU on Monday.

Depsite being “misled” by their summer employer, Fant and Price will have to bear the punishment.

Athletics Director Ross Bjork reiterated what was said in the initial statement about the situation, released on Friday. That message was simply that Fant and Price were not at fault in any way.

“George, T.J., and the men’s basketball staff followed proper protocol in order to participate in a summer job program, and their specific employer was approved by the WKU compliance office in accordance with NCAA rules,” WKU’s statement said. “The issue is not with the company or with their specific job duties; the issue involves assurances made to them by an individual at the company regarding the specific aspects of their employment.”

In June of 2011, the statement said, Fant and Price were approached by an individual who acts as a “case manager” for families participating in a government program.

Fant and Price agreed to be employed as “service providers” for qualifying area families. Their employers’ proposal to have Fant and Price work in this capacity — which was off-campus — was approved by the WKU athletics compliance office, according to the statement.

“The case manager falsified paperwork for their work to be performed later, and explained that the program allowed payment in advance,” according to the statement. “Following this, George and T.J. contacted the case manager concerning their work schedule and to find out the specifics of their job duties.

They were assured by the case manager that they would begin work soon.”

On Friday, Head Coach Ken McDonald said WKU was “blindsided” by the news — he found out the night before the Toppers’ season opener — and worked to get the two cleared by Friday’s game. After the game, McDonald said he was “hopeful” the Fant and Price would be cleared before Monday night’s game.

Instead, Fant and Price will have to sit out through WKU’s game against VCU on Nov. 23.

Their first game back will be on Nov. 26 against Southeastern Louisiana.

Bjork said there’s a slim chance the NCAA could rule Fant and Price eligible before then, but said realistically, that probably won’t happen. WKU will, though, appeal the decision.

Bjork said WKU wouldn’t pursue and legal action themselves, but the statement said the individual — whose name and company were purposely redacted — is being investigated by the “agency administering the program.”

“As a result, we are not able to make any further comment about the nature of the company, the case manager, or the investigation at this time,” WKU said in the statement.