Men's Basketball

Syracuse redshirt freshman center Obokoh loses year of eligibility

Syracuse redshirt freshman center Chinonso Obokoh has lost a year of eligiblity, SU Athletics spokesman Pete Moore confirmed to The Daily Orange in a text message Wednesday. Obokoh redshirted this year and did not play in a game, but will have three years of eligibility left starting next season, not four.

The Post-Standard reported Obokoh lost a year of eligibility at SU “because the NCAA ruled that his Rochester high school improperly classified him as a student when he arrived from Nigeria.”

Christopher Radford, the NCAA’s associate director of public and media relations, said in an email Thursday morning that the NCAA Eligibility Center reviews transcripts of international prospective student-athletes to ensure the student-athlete has graduated with the appropriate high school class. Radford said any time spent competing in athletics beyond that time, prior to college enrollment, can be subtracted from NCAA eligibility. He would not specify on Obokoh’s specific case.

Former Bishop Kearney High School head coach Jon Boon adamantly denied Bishop Kearney’s connection to Obokoh losing a year.

“This is the NCAA,” Boon said. “This has nothing to do with us. Ask the NCAA for their policy on Nigeria. I’ll save you a phone call. They don’t have one.”

Boon said Obokoh came to Bishop Kearney from Nigeria in 2010. He said Obokoh sat out his freshman year because he came to the school after the start of basketball season, and that Obokoh then played for Bishop Kearney his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

Boon said Bishop Kearney was never contacted about the potential loss in eligibility at SU, and insisted Obokoh did not stay back a year in high school.

“Here’s a kid who does everything he’s supposed to do, and they punish him,” Boon said. “Then you have all these idiots that go to 15-passenger van schools where they don’t even take the classes.

“If they’re really going to do something like this, then it’s a joke. Like I said, we did nothing wrong at the school.”

Boon said he hasn’t spoken with SU coaches Jim Boeheim or Mike Hopkins since Obokoh signed to play for SU last October, and he hasn’t spoken with anyone from the NCAA about Obokoh losing a year of eligibility.

He said Obokoh finished with close to a 2.5 GPA in high school, took 16 core credits and earned his diploma. Boon said age is not an issue. Boon checked carefully to make sure Obokoh was the correct age for a freshman when he came over, and confirmed he wasn’t too old at the time.

But now it appears that may not have been enough.

“You’re talking about the NCAA,” Boon said. “They’re not consistent about anything. They just make up sh*t as they go.”


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