UNC WR Tez Walker granted immediate eligibility
The NCAA ran a reverse Thursday and ruled that North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker is now eligible to play.
The two-time transfer's eligibility appeal was initially denied on Sept. 7, but the NCAA said new information has come to light.
The NCAA also criticized North Carolina officials for "inappropriate" behavior during the appeals process and blamed the school for not providing the pertinent information so that "this entire unfortunate episode could have been avoided."
Walker missed the first four games for the 14th-ranked Tar Heels (4-0, 1-0 ACC) but could make his debut on Saturday against Syracuse in Chapel Hill, N.C.
"I can't wait to put on that jersey, run out of the tunnel, and play in Kenan Stadium," Walker said in a statement Thursday. "I've been dreaming of this for a long time and now it will be a reality. See everyone on Saturday."
Walker began his career at North Carolina Central but transferred to Kent State after the Eagles' 2020 season was canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Charlotte native then transferred to North Carolina after last season to be closer to his ailing grandmother.
Walker enrolled at UNC on Jan. 9. Two days later, the NCAA announced that it would be cracking down on permitting waivers for two-time transfers.
In their statement Thursday, NCAA president Charlie Baker and Division I board of directors chair Jere Morehead did not provide details on the new information that led to the reversal.
"It is unfortunate that UNC failed to provide this important information previously," read the statement. "While we must be careful not to compromise a student-athlete's right to privacy when it comes to sensitive issues, we want to assure the Division I membership and everyone watching how the new transfer rules are applied, that this meets the new transfer waiver standards.
"UNC's behavior and decision to wage a public relations campaign is inappropriate and outside the bounds of the process UNC's own staff supported. Had the UNC staff not behaved in this fashion and submitted this information weeks ago, this entire unfortunate episode could have been avoided."
North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham pushed back on the NCAA's characterization of events.
"We are happy that Tez Walker is now eligible to play and enjoy doing what he loves to do. However, the justification provided by the NCAA today is not accurate," Cunningham said in a statement. "The University submitted all the necessary information and documentation as it was made available to us at the time and we still believe Tez met all the standards for the waiver in early August. It is not clear why the NCAA delayed making the correct decision then, but we are pleased to get the appropriate resolution now."
After Walker's appeal was denied last month, Tar Heels coach Mack Brown said he was "crushed" by the decision.
"I don't know that I've ever been more disappointed in a person, a group of people, or an institution than I am with the NCAA right now," Brown said. "It's clear that the NCAA is about process and it couldn't care less about the young people it's supposed to be supporting."
Brown issued another statement Thursday expressing his gratitude to the people at North Carolina who worked on the case and to the NCAA for "being willing to re-examine" the situation.
"This is, and always has been, about the welfare of this young man, and we can't wait to see him on the field doing what he loves to do," Brown said.
Walker played the previous two seasons at Kent State. He caught 58 passes for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022 while earning All-MAC honors.
--Field Level Media
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