ACC Basketball

NCAA: Purvis OK to attend N.C. State, but playing status undecided

NCAA: freshman can take classes but playing status unclear

jgiglio@newsobserver.comAugust 21, 2012 

Rodney Purvis can take classes at N.C. State, but he can’t play basketball, not yet, according to the NCAA.

The NCAA cleared the McDonald’s All-American from Raleigh Tuesday to go to class, but his eligibility for the upcoming basketball season remains in question.

Purvis confirmed the NCAA’s decision on his Twitter account. He will be on scholarship for the academic year, according to N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, but there’s still a possibility Purvis will have to sit out the 2012-13 season.

“Starting classes today is most important to me,” Purvis wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday. “The basketball will work itself out.”

Tuesday’s news was the first break for Purvis, who had been in academic limbo since Aug. 4, when the NCAA ruled he could not travel with N.C. State to Spain.

Purvis’ high school, Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh, is under an “extended review” by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

That process includes a review of every NCAA-required core class, such as English and math, that Purvis took for each year at the school. As a member of the first graduating class at Upper Room, Purvis is the first athlete from the school to go through the NCAA eligibility process.

The NCAA posts a list of “approved” classes for each high school on its web site. Because Upper Room had never been reviewed, it doesn’t have any “approved” classes, according to the NCAA’s site.

Purvis committed to N.C. State on Oct. 1, but the NCAA doesn’t begin its eligibility process until after a high school student graduates. About 200,000 high school students submit information to the eligibility database each year. The review process between Upper Room and the NCAA began in June. Upper Room, the NCAA and N.C. State have spent the summer trying to resolve Purvis’ eligibility.

Upper Room principal Jojuanna Long did not respond to a request seeking comment.

The NCAA does not comment on current cases and Chris Radford, an NCAA spokesman, said earlier this month there is no timetable for the extended review.

Radford wrote in an email to the News & Observer that an extended review of a high school is not unusual. The NCAA Eligibility Center categorizes about 50 schools per year as under “extended review.”

Every eligibility case has its own circumstances, but the NCAA cleared Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, the top-rated prospect in the class by ESPN, on Aug. 9. Last week, the NCAA withheld UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad from traveling with the team to China due to eligibility issues.

Like Noel, Purvis reclassified during his prep career, moving up a grade to the class of 2012, but Purvis’ academic issues with the NCAA are related to the qualifications of the high school.

Gottfried was disappointed Purvis, an expected starter, was unable to play in Spain, but he said Tuesday he was pleased with the NCAA’s decision.

“It’s the right thing,” Gottfried said. “He’s in class and that’s the most important part of this whole equation.”

Classes began at N.C. State this past Thursday, but Purvis was held out by the school as a precaution. If Purvis had attended classes before the NCAA cleared him, he would have been considered a “nonqualifier” in NCAA vernacular.

As a nonqualifier, Purvis would have missed a minimum of one season at N.C. State, if he opted to enroll at all. The ACC has a strict set of rules for nonqualifiers under which Purvis would not be eligible for a scholarship or to practice with the team during his freshman year.

Gottfried viewed Tuesday’s decision by the NCAA to allow Purvis to enroll, and to be on scholarship, as a good sign. N.C. State will begin informal workouts Monday, the coach said, and Gottfried hopes Purvis will be able to participate.

Purvis, a 6-3 combo guard who was ranked as the 20th-best prospect in the class by ESPN, is expected to start at shooting guard for the Wolfpack, which returns four starters from a 24-13, NCAA tournament team.

Practice for the 2012-13 season begins on Oct. 12 and N.C. State’s season-opener is Nov. 9.

“We have to wait on the decision,” Gottfried said. “We’re hoping for the best.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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