North Carolina has been waiting for the NCAA to rule on the eligibility of wide receiver Tez Walker.
As of Friday, the day before the No. 21 Tar Heels’ season opener against South Carolina in Charlotte, there was no word from the NCAA — either a final decision on Walker’s status or a clarification on what is delaying the decision.
UNC coach Mack Brown, in a statement Friday, again expressed the frustration and futility felt by Walker, his teammates and coaches, and his family in Charlotte.
“I can’t express my disappointment in the NCAA strong enough,” Brown said.
Brown said the NCAA still had time to correct what he called an “egregious error.” The game Saturday at Bank of America Stadium has a 7:30 p.m start, and Brown said this week Walker would be with the team and the Heels would have his uniform, pads and helmet ready in case there was a last-minute resolution by the NCAA.
Walker, a Charlotte native, is being denied instant eligibility as a two-time transfer as the NCAA has elected to become more restrictive on eligibility waivers. Walker first enrolled at N.C. Central, only to have the 2020 season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then transferred and played his first two seasons of college football at Kent State.
Walker left Kent State and transferred to UNC in January, saying he wanted to play closer to home and allow an ailing grandmother in Charlotte to see him play.
But the NCAA ruled against a waiver for Walker, leading UNC to appeal the decision, and the waiting game began. Walker, who was named a preseason All-ACC pick at wideout, has practiced with the Heels while anticipating and hoping for a favorable outcome.
“At this point, everyone knows the details of Tez’s journey to North Carolina, and the overwhelming opinion of those around the country is that he should be playing (Saturday) and this should have been resolved months ago,” Brown said.
Brown said the NCAA has been reluctant to consider the “real issues of mental health, COVID and rule changes that have impacted” Walker’s path to UNC.
“You can’t say you’re about helping kids and then show a total disregard for the kids you’re supposed to be helping,” Brown said. “It’s clear they are about process and not people.”
Walker’s case has created an outpouring of support, with Gov. Roy Cooper among those contacting the NCAA.