The only consistency in the NCAA’s eligibility decisions is their inconsistency.
While there is still no news regarding Kentucky’s Xavier Peters, the NCAA has announced Aubrey Solomon will be eligible to play at Tennessee this season. The former Michigan player originally announced his decision to transfer last season; he committed to the Volunteers in late December. The defensive lineman is a former five-star recruit, and he has been practicing with his new team throughout the entire offseason.
Here’s where things get tricky. Tennessee’s head coach Jeremy Pruitt has not said what Solomon’s waiver case entailed, and Solomon has not been made available to reporters during the preseason. Coach Pruitt confirmed the news during the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, but still did not elaborate on the circumstances behind Solomon’s immediate eligibility. The junior also did not elaborate on his own set of circumstances.
“I’m beyond excited to be playing football this season,” Solomon said in a statement released by the university. “I can’t wait to suit up with my brothers.”
Solomon’s availability will provide a big boost to the Tennessee defensive line, which has no returning starters. The decision came right down to the wire. It took 249 days for the NCAA to make and release their decision – Solomon and the rest of the team will suit up this Saturday against Georgia State.
There is definitely a chance Solomon’s case included personal issues he’d like to keep private. He’s entitled to that right. But isn’t it odd someone with unclear circumstances has been cleared to play immediately, while another player, who transferred closer to home under very public and seemingly-dire circumstances was not?
Offensive lineman Brock Hoffman transferred from Coastal Carolina this year so he could be closer to his mother, who had a noncancerous brain tumor removed before his freshman season and is still dealing with complications. He sought immediate eligibility through the family hardship waiver, but his request was denied Tuesday.
Hoffman has said the NCAA denied his request because his family’s home is five miles outside of a 100-mile radius of Virginia Tech, because he waited too long to transfer after her original diagnosis and because his mother’s condition has now improved. He also said the NCAA did not contact his family during the (again, lengthy) decision-making process.
Hoffman’s father posted this image of the email he sent to the NCAA waiver committee following Tuesday’s news. Spoiler alert: the Hoffman family is not happy:
@NCAAFootball @NCAA @JerryLVaughnJr Here we are the next day waiting for an official letter on why @BrockHoffman76 was denied and still nothing from you? @JayBilas @KirkHerbstreit @ESPN_ReceDavis @davidpollack47 @DesmondHoward @HokiesFB @VTHokie_Nation #freebrockhoffman pic.twitter.com/DrxtoH2l6V
— Brian Hoffman (@bhoffman95) August 28, 2019
Brock Hoffman posted his own reaction on Twitter:
2020 Loading…? pic.twitter.com/qQpoG2woIf
— Brock (@BrockHoffman76) August 27, 2019
What does this all mean? Basically, there are still a lot of blurred lines and plenty of questions surrounding the “rubric” for student athletes looking to gain immediate eligibility, specifically through the family hardship waiver.
Kentucky’s Xavier Peters has been very public about transferring to the Commonwealth in order to be closer to his young son, who lives in Cincinnati. Will that be enough for immediate eligibility? With just days before opening kickoff, the pressure is on, and the ball is still in the NCAA’s court.
Love my fans bass at Kentucky @BBN for supporting me coming back for my son everything I’m doing from interviews to writing letters it’s all for my SON. I can’t wait until he gets older and I can explain everything to him about what type of journey his father has been on? pic.twitter.com/MqgjzngJDV
— ?Xavier Peters????? (@xavierpeters22) August 5, 2019