Seven-foot freshman Trevor Thompson’s application for a hardship transfer waiver so he can play next season at Ohio State is being prepared by the athletic department and will be submitted to the NCAA at some point this spring or summer, a department spokesman said.
Thompson, who is leaving Virginia Tech and has three seasons of eligibility remaining, said last week he thinks he has a “strong case” for receiving the waiver, which would void the one year most Division I transfers must sit out. The basis for it is that he wants to move nearer his Indianapolis home while his father, Ryan, a former major league baseball player, recuperates from neck surgery.
But John Infante, a former compliance officer at two Division I schools who now operates a website dealing with eligibility issues, said the distance between Columbus and Indianapolis could be a stumbling block.
“You’re required to move within a 100-mile radius of where the relative lives. So that’s going to make it pretty hard” to receive the waiver, he said.
The NCAA also will study the timeline of events to decide whether the father’s medical condition was the cause of his son’s decision to transfer.
Ryan Thompson told The Dispatch earlier this month that he suffered a neck fracture in 2004 while playing baseball, has residual nerve damage from the initial surgery and needs another surgery to “clean things up. I’m going to have that done soon … and I’ll be down for a while.”
Infante said the NCAA will investigate whether the surgery could have been performed earlier or could be put off now.
“The requirement is that the timing or the progression of the illness or injury or the condition ‘necessitates’ the transfer,” Infante said.
Another potential obstacle is if the NCAA determines that a coaching change at Virginia Tech was the impetus for Thompson’s decision. Former Marquette coach Buzz Williams was hired on March 21, and after his first meeting with players the next day, Trevor Thompson called his father and said he wanted to transfer, Ryan Thompson told the Roanoke (Va.) Times. There was an incident between the coach and player during the meeting, the father said.
The NCAA “will look at if he decided to transfer and then (his father) decided to schedule the surgery,” Infante said. “That’s going to be very tough to overcome, I think.”
But even if the request is denied, Ryan Thompson said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for his son.
Ohio State will be deep at the post position next season with returning seniors Amir Williams and Trey McDonald, graduate transfer Anthony Lee and incoming freshman Dave Bell. But only Bell will return in 2015-16.
“If he takes a year and sits, gets stronger, puts on 25-30 pounds, he’s going to be a monster on the court. Plus, he’ll know (coach Thad Matta’s system) through and through, which is huge,” Ryan Thompson said of his son. “If he comes back (in 2015-16) as a redshirt sophomore and dominates, that would be an ideal situation.”