The request of Maryland sophomore Dez Wells to play basketball this year has been denied by the NCAA. Wells, a 6-foot-5 swingman was expelled from Xavier this summer after a sexual-assault allegation. The school refused to reconsider when Wells was exonerated and Maryland won a recruiting battle for his services over schools such as Kentucky, Memphis.
Maryland will appeal the decision, according to a team spokesman. Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon is not commenting on the matter.
According to NCAA spokesman Chris Radford, the process is two-fold. Once an initial waiver request is denied, it can be appealed through a five-member “legislative council.” Radford said that Maryland is free to supply further information to support its case.
Wells, a 6-5 sophomore, hit all seven of his shots, scoring 15 points in a 20-minute scrimmage at Comcast Center on Saturday, appearing to be the team’s most polished offensive player. He averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds for a Xavier team that reached the NCAA Sweet 16. He was suspended for four games for his role in a brawl with rival Cincinnati.
With Xavier’s reputation suffering in part because of the brawl, some college basketball observers believed that Wells was judged too harshly by the school. After Wells was exonerated, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters took the unusual step of calling Xavier’s decision “fundamentally unfair,” and “seriously flawed,” and added that the matter “should never have gotten to the point where someone’s reputation is ruined.”
The NCAA granted a similar waiver this summer, allowing Virginia quarterback Phillip Sims – a transfer from Alabama – to play immediately because he was returning home to be near his ailing father. Trey Zeigler, who played for his father Ernie Zeigler at Central Michigan, was granted a waiver as well after his father was fired and he transferred to Pittsburgh.
In the case of Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis, however, he was denied a sixth year of eligibility following a torn a ACL that limited him to two games last year.
While the NCAA was criticized mildly for all of these decisions, these were cases similar to others the NCAA had faced in the past and precedence had been set. There is no such template for the Wells case, which gives Maryland more hope that the appeal has a chance to be granted.