Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tyler Smith Eligible to Play Immediately at Tennessee

Tennessee freshman forward Tyler Smith has been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Smith transferred from Iowa after the season to be closer to his father, Billy, who suffers from lung cancer and whose condition is not improving. Shortly after transferring, Smith filed an appeal to the NCAA that would allow him to play immediately so his father could watch him play.

Bruce Pearl was glad to see the NCAA make the right decision. "This is really good news for Tyler, his family and the University of Tennessee basketball program," he told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. "I am pleased to see the process work and I believed all along that granting the waiver was the right decision." He went on to say that the announcement did not come as a surprise to him. "This is a good example of the NCAA doing the right thing in the best interest of the student-athlete,'' he said. "This isn't a surprise to me; this is how the system is supposed to work.''

The Volunteers were already looking forward to playing with Smith next season. "And we're still a family," freshman forward Duke Crews said. "Tyler belongs here with us; we've all known him since we started playing.''

In a statement, Smith thanked the Tennessee program and said he was excited to play next year. "I'm appreciative of the University for working with the NCAA and their support during the process,'' he said. "I'm anxious to play and contribute as a member of next year's team.'' Smith, who was an all-Big Ten freshman this past season, averaged 14.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

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