Abromaitis and Mbakwe: not so different, but only one gets to return
May 2, 2012 — 2:33pm
If you’ve thoroughly digested the news of Trevor Mbakwe’s return, and need another reminder of the rareness of the sixth-year-without-two-injuries, Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis is off somewhere packing up his high tops as proof.
Interestingly, the two players’ histories are somewhat similar: Both players sat out their sophomore years and then lost most of last season with torn ACLs. But while Mbakwe missed his sophomore season due to legal issues, Abromaitis simply made the choice to redshirt.
The discrepancy makes me wonder: What exactly does the NCAA look for in a sixth-year candidate?
It could be argued that the NCAA considers whether a player had any control in losing a single year – in Abromaitis’ case, he willingly chose to lose a season. That would imply Mbakwe didn’t have a say in his legal battle, which would essentially a statement of innocence. And who is the NCAA to say what really happened if the court doesn’t?
If not that, then what separates the two? Both have shown themselves to be exemplary students and teammates. Abromaitis had already completed a bachelor's degree and an MBA – certainly this is someone who has taken the experience seriously and could provide a worthy example.
Of course, the NCAA doesn’t need to provide reasons behind their decision, making the situation doomed to baffle. And ensuring Gophers fans everywhere will be more grateful than ever that their sixth year nominee got the nod.
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.
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