Without ever saying John Wall's name, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. acknowledged Tuesday one of the school's basketball players faces questions about his amateur status that could affect his eligibility.
Last week, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive told ESPN.com that the UK player was heralded freshman John Wall. Todd did not say Slive was wrong.
"I think the commissioner made his statement, which I'm not sure he intended to make, but he made it," Todd said after a meeting of UK's Board of Trustees.
An advocate of open dealings with the public, Todd said he felt "very comfortable" with UK not admitting that a question existed on a player's eligibility. "There's no reason to expose him to a whole lot of newspaper articles when it's not necessary till we get a final decision," the UK president said.
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Todd declined to comment about how strongly he believed that Wall would ultimately gain full eligibility or how long it would take the NCAA to render a decision or whether Wall can play in Wednesday night's Blue-White Game.
An NCAA spokesperson said last week that players who have not gained academic or amateurism eligibility may practice but not play in competitions.
"Per NCAA Bylaws, enrolled student-athletes on campus may practice with the team while their eligibility status is being reviewed, but they may not participate in any competitions," spokesperson Cameron Schuh wrote via e-mail.
Schuh did not respond to a follow-up question about whether an intrasquad scrimmage qualified as a competition. Or whether the competition had to be against an outside opponent.
Slive said Wall and Mississippi State freshman Renardo Sidney faced "amateurism issues" that had to be resolved before gaining full eligibility. Wall's issues reportedly are about his AAU coach, Brian Clifton.
The Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.) reported that Clifton had acted as a certified FIBA agent from May 14, 2007, until April 17, 2008. Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, played for Clifton's D-One Sports team from 2006 to 2008.
Under NCAA rules, Wall playing for Clifton's team equated to accepting illegal benefits from an agent, ESPN.com reported. To regain his full eligibility, Wall might need to repay Clifton for all expenses paid by the AAU coach.
When asked whether Wall faced a serious threat to his eligibility, Todd said, "No comment. If we chose to talk about it, we would have talked about it a long time ago. You'll know about (the decision) when we know about it."
Todd defended the UK decision not to comment.
"It may come out that there's nothing there," the UK president said, "so why drag some child and the mother through all that because people want to sell newspapers."
Todd said he felt no obligation to inform UK fans that a question existed about Wall's eligibility.
"I think the fans would like to know what the outcome is," he said. "But I don't think they need to know all the ins and outs because it's a child's life we're trying to protect. And there are privacy rules that we abide by, and I feel very comfortable abiding by those privacy rules."
However, Mississippi State has admitted for weeks, if not months, that amateurism questions had to be answered so Sidney could gain his full eligibility.
"I'm not making decisions for anybody else," Todd said.