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Basketball notes: McClellan to miss another seven games; Verdejo transfer could hurt UA

By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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Sophomore Jawann McClellan will not be in the lineup against Utah this Saturday and will be out another seven games for academic eligibility.

Head coach Lute Olson said in a press conference Wednesday that he had hoped to get McClellan back this week but will have to wait to see the results of his classes.

“We hoped he would be eligible for the 17th but that didn’t happen,” Olson said.

McClellan has already missed the first seven games of the season due to academics, and will have to complete a winter session class to be eligible for the remainder of the games.

“He will have to take winter session,” Olson said. “So as soon as we see the results of his classes now and winter session we’ll know.”

If McClellan passes his winter session class, he will be projected to begin play January 12 at Oregon State.

McClellan was unavailable for comment Wednesday at the McKale Center.

Verdejo transfer could punish UA

Jesus Verdejo’s decision to transfer to the University of Miami may trigger NCAA sanctions against the UA, Olson said Wednesday.

Coaches are worried that the transfer will force Arizona to lose another point in the Academic Progress Report (APR), which according to the NCAA website, is a real-time snapshot of every team’s academic performance at a given time.

Failure to meet NCAA-imposed standards can result in teams losing scholarships or being barred from postseason play.

Olson said Wednesday that three school officials would be interviewing sophomore Jesus Verdejo in an attempt to centralize the decision to transfer.

In a statement released on December 10, Verdejo announced his decision to transfer to the University of Miami to be closer to his family.

Verdejo, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, had decided to red-shirt the 2005-2006 season at Arizona, but will now be attending the Coral Gables, Fla.

“With Jesus, we’ve taken the proactive approach and we’ve asked three of the people in administration to interview Jesus,” Olson said.

According to the NCAA Web site, the APR is calculated by allocating points for eligibility and retention – the two factors that research identifies as the best indicators of graduation.

If student athletes are not academically eligible or leave the institution via transfer or other reason, the institution loses APR points.

Olson said he hopes the interview identifies the reason Verdejo is leaving. The coaching staff wants to make sure Verdejo didn’t transfer because of anything the program is putting on the player.

“None of the three (committee members) have anything to do with athletics,” Olson said. “They can interview Jesus and find out why he is opting to transfer.”

Olson said that this type of approach is something he brought up in a coaches meeting last spring with the NCAA about then walk-on Beau Muhlbach’s decision to transfer from Arizona to Texas A&M University.

“He came here as a walk-on and we did him a favor and put him on scholarship because we had a scholarship available,” Olson said. “He asked me to tell him after the year and a half if it was a case or if he was going to be a player or a scout team guy.

“I could have told him he was going to be a player and he would have stayed but I told him what I thought was the truth and he opted to transfer and yet we get a minus-one (APR point) for the transfer even though he was a 3.6 or 3.7 (grade point average) student.”

Verdejo’s last interview was Wednesday afternoon and Olson said after they compile the information, he will send it to NCAA president Myles Brand.

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