NCAA frees Purvis to play for Wolfpack

jgiglio@newsobserver.comSeptember 18, 2012 

Rodney Purvis hasn’t played in his first college basketball game, but he already has an NCAA victory.

Purvis and N.C. State won their appeal with the NCAA for the academic eligibility of the McDonald’s All-American guard. The NCAA cleared Purvis, a freshman from Raleigh, on Monday to play for the Wolfpack this season.

"A huge thank you to the NCAA, I really appreciate this opportunity," Purvis wrote on his Twitter account Monday.

Added N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried: "I’m excited the NCAA came to this conclusion. I think it was the right thing to do."

Purvis is expected to start for Gottfried’s second N.C. State team, sliding into the shooting guard role vacated by senior C.J. Williams off the Wolfpack’s 24-win, Sweet 16 team from last season.

Purvis, 6-3 and 195 pounds, averaged 26.1 points as a senior at Upper Room and was named the player of the year in the state of North Carolina by the AP. He was rated as the 20th-best prospect in the country by ESPN and made both the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand all-star games.

"There’s no question, he can help us a great deal," Gottfried said.

Monday’s decision ended a 44-day ordeal that began Aug. 4. The most difficult part wasn’t how long it lasted, Purvis’ mother said, but rather the circumstances.

The NCAA’s eligibility questions centered on Purvis’ high school, Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh. 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 designated Upper Room as a school under "extended evaluation" and technically ruled Purvis ineligible while it investigated the school.

"This was never about Rodney," said Shanda McNair, Purvis’ mother. "The only part that was about him was that he was the one who could be penalized."

Upper Room’s status with the NCAA has not changed, an NCAA spokesman wrote in an email to the News & Observer on Monday, rather Purvis was cleared after an "individual review" by the NCAA.

In order to get clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center, Purvis needed to provide extensive paperwork for each of the core courses required by the NCAA. That meant rounding up four years worth of syllabi, class assignments, and textbook information for the 16 core classes, hence the protracted length of the process.

Purvis would have missed the entire season without Monday’s ruling. It has been a long summer for Purvis, who was held out of the Wolfpack’s trip to Spain on Aug. 4 by the NCAA while it began its review of Upper Room.

On Aug. 21, Purvis was cleared to enroll in class and the NCAA ruled N.C. State could put him on scholarship. That decision paved the way for Monday’s ruling.

Practice begins Oct. 12 and the first game preseason game is Nov. 3 at PNC Arena, where a relieved McNair will be to watch her son for the first time in a Wolfpack uniform.

"It’s like the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger," McNair said. "And this definitely made us stronger."

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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