Chris Walker, the highly touted men’s basketball prospect who is the centerpiece of Florida’s incoming class, has been fighting to get through the NCAA Eligibility Center all summer. This report suggests that he has lost that fight. But there are a couple of problems with writing off Walker at this point, not the least of which is this being reported by only one outlet so far.
On the academic side, the NCAA Eligibility Center does not rule prospects “eligible” or “ineligible”. The categories are qualifiers, nonqualifiers, partial qualifiers (in Division II) and academic redshirts (starting in 2016). The NCAA Eligibility Center never says to a prospect “based on your academic record, we are declaring that you cannot play this year”. The rulings are better read as “based on your academic record, we are declaring that you cannot play this year yet”.
For a prospect to absolutely be a nonqualifier in July, it would need to be one of a couple situations. The prospect would need to be more than one credit short of the core course requirements, or be so short of the required GPA based on his or her test core that they cannot get their grades up using the exception that allows one core course credit earned after graduation.
It’s true that Walker is rapidly running out of chances to qualify by August. But even that is not a guarantee at this time. He could still take another summer school or online course to try and boost his GPA before Florida starts school on August 21 (even going a week or so past that date is a possibility).
And if Walker still has not qualified by the start of Florida’s fall semester, he can still try and qualify by January. That actually gives him more options, since in addition to continuing to take postgraduate courses he could also register for one of the three SATs or three ACTs offered during the fall. Assuming that Walker’s issue is just a GPA/test score sliding scale shortfall, this could theoretically go on indefinitely, as long as he does not enroll in a collegiate institution.
The increased scrutiny on recruiting has lead to initial eligibility being something that the average fan gets worried about. And right around now is when fans start to panic a bit. The urgency in compliance offices and with coaching staffs ratchets up a bit as well, but if a prospect had a chance to qualify in late June, he probably still has a chance in early-mid July.