This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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Abromaitis and Mbakwe: not so different, but only one gets to return

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: May 2, 2012 - 2:33 PM

Abromaitis, left

Abromaitis, left

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.

On Wednesday, the NCAA denied Abromaitis a sixth year of eligibility, just a month and a half after granting Mbakwe his. 

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.

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