Rakeem Buckles’ waiver to be eligible to play this season for the Gophers men’s basketball team was denied by the NCAA, associate athletic director Chris Werle said.
The university will appeal the decision on Buckles’ behalf. Buckles signed a Big Ten tender and was admitted to Minnesota, but had not enrolled because of the uncertainty of the waiver. How long the appeal process will take is unknown, Werle said.
Gophers coach Richard Pitino was on the staff that helped recruit Buckles to Louisville in 2009. After playing parts of three seasons there, the 6-8, 205 pound power forward transferred to Florida International for the 2012-13 season, where Pitino was the new head coach, and sat out during a redshirt year while rehabbing a knee injury.
Pitino was interested in coaching Buckles once again with the Gophers, who have depth issues in their frontcourt. Candidates to play inside for the Gophers next year are Elliott Eliason, Mo Walker, Charles Buggs, Oto Osenieks and Joey King. Minnesota has one scholarship remaining for the coming year.
Buckles seemed to be a good candidate for an NCAA waiver based on FIU’s recent postseason ineligibility. The NCAA granted a waiver in light of that situation to former FIU guard Malik Smith, who transferred to the Gophers.
Unless the appeal is successful, this should be the end of the Buckles-to-Minnesota conversation. Without a waiver, Buckles would need to sit out another redshirt season. But with the upcoming season marking the fifth (and final) year of eligibility, he would need to request another waiver for a sixth year to play for the Gophers in 2014-15.
• This year’s Big Ten schedule was released Wednesday. The Gophers will play Illinois (home), Indiana (home), Michigan State (away) and Nebraska (away) once each and every other conference opponent twice. The only nationally televised games scheduled at this time are Ohio State at Minnesota on Jan. 16 (ESPN2) and Minnesota at Wisconsin on Feb. 13 (ESPN or ESPN2). See a full schedule in Scoreboard, Page C9.