Although the school’s initial appeal was denied, the NCAA looked at a specific case and ruled in favor of the program. Although privacy laws prevent the school or the NCAA on commenting on what case was reevaluated, they did lessen the Cats penalty by one. Now the team has been penalized just three scholarships.
Since no details on who or what changed the NCAA’s mind, all we can do is speculate. The Cats did have a few players leave the last few seasons due to family reasons and that could have been the special circumstances needed to sway the committee.
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The bad news is that the Wildcats will not be able to serve out the penalty this year. Originally the team was going to use scholarships from outgoing players this fall, but they have been told that they must limit the number of recruits they can add.
The Cats signed 24 players this year, one less than the maximum, and they will use that scholarship as part of the three. Although defensive linemen Louis Holmes and Gabe Long have not officially joined the program yet, they are both living in Tucson and taking classes at Pima Community College and plan on enrolling as early as this summer. The plan seems to be to hold two scholarships for the two defensive linemen.
Unless there is someone from the incoming recruiting class who will not enroll in August, the Cats will take the two scholarship hit in next year’s class. As of now the Cats have 20 outgoing seniors, plus a handful of scholarships from the players who have transferred out of the program this spring.