Several questions remain unanswered regarding the ineligibility of freshman forward George Fant and freshman guard T.J. Price.
Fant and Price sat out their third of six games on Thursday as WKU played Tulsa in the first round of the Charleston Classic due to a violation of NCAA rules regarding their summer employment at what is still an undisclosed off-campus company.
Because the case is still under investigation, WKU hasn’t been able to publicly provide much information about the details of the situation.
“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 a statement on Monday.
WKU maintains that Fant and Price were “misled” by their immediate supervisor, labeled a “case manager” in the statement.
On Monday, Athletics Director Ross Bjork reiterated what was said in an initial statement released prior to Friday’s game against St. Joseph’s about the situation. That message was simply that Fant and Price were not at fault in any way and that the blame lies with their boss.
“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 statement said that in June of 2011, Fant and Price were approached by the individual to do work for and with families participating in a government program.
Fant and Price agreed to be employed as “service providers” for qualifying area families. This 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.
Fant and Price then contacted the case manager concerning their work schedule and to find out the specifics of their job duties and were assured by the case manager that they would begin work soon.
But the two never did the work. The money was eventually paid back to the employer but not until Friday — the day of WKU’s first regular season game.
Head Coach Ken McDonald said WKU was “blindsided” by the news — he found out at the end of practice last Thursday — and worked to get the two cleared by Friday’s game.
Instead, Fant and Price will have to sit out through WKU’s game against VCU on Tuesday. 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, however, appeal the decision.
Bjork also said it was somewhat of a blessing that the situation arose when it did — before the season started.
If WKU had started the season and Fant and Price played in those games before becoming retroactively ineligible, WKU would have had to forfeit those games, Bjork said.
Bjork said WKU wouldn’t pursue and legal action itself, but the statement said the individual is being investigated by the “agency administering the program.”