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. In addition, Walker will be required to donate the $270 received from the agents to a charity of his choice and serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.
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 membership has expressed continued concern about how third-party influence, improper agent involvement and the role of nonscholastic basketball impact student-athletes and prospects,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs. “Out of concern for student-athletes’ wellbeing, our members have created rules that limit the involvement of these individuals. The 12 games Mr. Walker was required to sit out reflect the significance of these violations.”
Florida filed for reinstatement for Walker late Jan. 21. The NCAA then worked with Florida to finalize the facts until today’s decision.
When a school discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete’s eligibility be reinstated. The NCAA staff reviews each student-athlete reinstatement request individually based on its own merits, including the significance of the violations, and set of specific facts. After consideration by Division I Leadership Council on Jan. 17, the membership has directed the national office staff to consider when extenuating circumstances lend themselves to an alternative outcome for these types of decisions. The governance committees and Leadership Council have agreed to review such circumstances and provide feedback to the staff.