Rakeem Buckles' waiver to be eligible to play immediately for the University of Minnesota has been denied by the NCAA, a Gophers team source told the Star Tribune.
The university will appeal the decision on Buckles' behalf.
Gophers coach Richard Pitino was on the staff that helped recruit Buckles to Louisville in 2009. After three years, Buckles transferred to Florida International, where Pitino was the new head coach, and sat out a redshirt year while rehabbing a knee injury. Pitino was interested in coaching Buckles once again in large part due to the thinness of the frontcourt corps for the coming year. The 6-8, 205-pound power forward seemed to be a good candidate for a waiver based on FIU's recent postseason ineligibility. The NCAA granted former FIU guard Malik Smith a waiver in light of that situation.
Without Buckles, the Gophers' hopes for the 2013-14 season dim, unless Pitino and Co. are able to find another big man before the start of the season. Minnesota has one scholarship remaining for the coming year.
Unless the Gophers win that appeal, this should be the end of the Buckles conversation at Minnesota. Without a waiver, Buckles would need to sit out another redshirt season. But with this year marking the fifth (and final) year of Buckles' eligibility, he would need to request another waiver for a sixth year to play for the Gophers in 2014-15.
Buckles signed a Big Ten tender and was admitted to Minnesota, but had not enrolled due to the uncertainty of the waiver. How long the appeal process will take is not known.
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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