Joey Gatewood’s waiver may not be as cut-and-dry as originally anticipated.
With Gatewood, along with other intra-conference transfers such as Cade Mays (Georgia to Tennessee) and Otis Reese (Georgia to Ole Miss) waiting to hear back from the league regarding their eligibility, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey says there is a “very direct rule” indicating that those transferring within the conference must sit out for a full year before returning to action.
“There’s a very direct rule that says if you transfer from School A to School B in the SEC, you serve an academic year-of-residence (before you’re eligible),” Sankey said during his appearance on Birmingham JOX 94.5’s The Roundtable Wednesday morning. “There are a set of NCAA oddity exceptions. Then in 2018, our membership created two more, one for grad transfers and one for individuals on teams that face postseason bans. And people send in waivers, but one of the questions that should be asked is not what is the commissioner going to do, it’s why haven’t our members voted to change that rule.
“So we’re inviting people to campus knowing there’s a clear rule, and now everyone points and says, ‘Well, you need to let people out of that rule.’ And one of the questions that’s real is why has our membership not acted to change, and the answer is because we have to work together, we have to be respectful. Could it change, should it change, might we manage it differently, those are questions still to be answered.
“The real direct answer is decades ago, and repeatedly since, the now 14 member universities of the SEC have said we that think that rule is appropriate within our own conference.”
At the start of his first press conference of the season on Monday, Mark Stoops was asked about Gatewood’s status, who transferred from Auburn to Kentucky last December, with the UK head coach noting that the school is still waiting to hear from the league office if he will be eligible this season.
“Not at this point,” Stoops said. “No. No word.”
Stoops also shot down the rumored gentleman’s agreement between Kentucky and Auburn regarding Gatewood, adding that a final decision will come directly from the SEC.
“There is no agreement, no gentleman’s agreement,” Stoops said. “I’m waiting to hear back from the league because it’s an SEC-to-SEC school [transfer], so we’re waiting to hear back from them.”
Back on Sept. 14, Stoops said on his evening call-in show that he was expecting to hear back from the SEC later in the week and that he felt good about Gatewood’s waiver being approved.
“Still waiting on the waiver,” Stoops said at the time. “It’s a two-part process with the NCAA and the SEC because we’re going from one SEC school to the other. I feel good about that, but you never know till it’s done. Hopefully we hear something this week. We have to move forward until we get that final waiver, so we’ll see where that goes. I do anticipate getting an answer this week.”
With that anticipated timeline now in our rearview mirror and kickoff just three days way, it’s becoming rather apparent that Gatewood will not be able to suit up at Auburn.
Will the SEC approve him for Week 2 and beyond? That’s the big question.