Return to Bylaw Blog

Sorting Through Creighton’s Waivers and Scholarships

Creighton’s men’s basketball team got a boost today with the news that Grant Gibbs received a sixth-year clock extension waiver from the NCAA. Back in late April I was pretty bearish on the chances of success for Gibbs and Creighton. But this one line from Creighton head coach Greg McDermott might hold part of the answer of how Gibbs bucked some long odds:

McDermott said Gonzaga coach Mark Few was instrumental throughout the process in helping Gibbs receive the extra year.

Gonzaga was always going to have to be involved with Gibbs needing his freshman year to be a medically necessary redshirt. But Gonzaga could have also helped with his transfer year. I doubt the NCAA would approve a waiver that sets a precedent where a transfer can establish the year in residence as one of his two years toward a clock extension waiver by getting surgery after the fact.

So it would have been very helpful to Creighton if Gonzaga’s records showed that Gibbs was already injured and would likely have missed the season had he not transferred. What the NCAA might be ruling here is that the injury meant 2010–11 was a denied participation opportunity and Gibbs’s decision to transfer does not bring it within his control.

Bringing Gibbs back into the fold created another headache for Creighton, which then had a scholarship crunch. The solution though seems pretty clever:

According to a Creighton spokesperson, Greg McDermott can receive 50 percent tuition remission for a family member to attend the school or be on the team as a walk-on. That means McDermott would have to pay an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 of the $30,000-$40,000 tuition at the school for All-American and player of the year candidate Doug McDermott to attend school next season.

It’s actually a bit trickier than that. At first glance, Creighton does not look to be able to use Greg McDermott’s tuition benefit to help cover Doug McDermott’s tuition. Employee dependent tuition benefits are considered institutional financial aid until an employee works for a school for five years. And in basketball, athletes who receive any form of institutional financial aid and who do not redshirt count against scholarship limits. So how can Greg McDermott use his tuition benefit? The most likely answer is in the first sentence of that bylaw:

In football or basketball, a student-athlete who was recruited (see Bylaw 15.02.8) by the awarding institution…

Recruited, according to Bylaw 15.02.8, means a prospective student-athlete had in-person, off-campus contact with a coaching staff member, came on an official visit, or received a written offer of financial aid. In between getting his release from Northern Iowa and starting at Creighton, it is possible that Doug McDermott neither took an official visit or had in-person contact with any coach but his father. And while Doug McDermott was on scholarship for two years, Creighton does not appear to have announced his signing. If the younger McDermott signed his scholarship after starting school, it would not change his unrecruited status.

If Doug McDermott is unrecruited, then he can receive his father’s tuition benefit and play this year without counting against the scholarship limits. So not only would a player of the year candidate be a walk-on, he would actually be formally classified as part of the lowliest category of walk-ons.

UPDATE: Looks like all that wrangling was for naught. Creighton announced that the McDermott’s will have to pay full tuition for Doug to be a walk-on. That means he likely was recruited, and Creighton could not find a way around Bylaw

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!