OSU's Olukemi still waiting on eligibility ruling
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
10/23/12 at 5:56 AM
STILLWATER - Jéan-Paul Olukemi was not among the first to know about his eligibility issue at Oklahoma State.
Last winter, Olukemi was walking through the student union when someone stopped him and showed him the story on ESPN.com.
"I had no clue," he said Monday at OSU's media day. "That's how I found out.
"I was definitely shocked. I was kind of upset. Why wasn't I notified before it got published?"
Now a senior, Olukemi has moved on to another question: What is the status of his NCAA appeal? He has one semester of eligibility remaining unless the appeal is granted. He unknowingly took bad advice in high school and took classes at a junior college, thus starting his eligibility clock.
"Somebody told me to do something I shouldn't have done, but you can't go back in the past and change anything," he said. "You just hope that people understand that you listen to people who are much older than you and they give you the wrong information because they're trying to do something to benefit themselves.
"I hope they understand it wasn't something that I did."
Months have passed since OSU filed the appeal, but the university hasn't heard back.
"It's kind of like a headache, like a nagging foot injury you can't get rid of," Olukemi said. "I just don't worry about it, just go out and practice every day and do as much as I can and understand that I may be able to play and I may not be able to play."
Said coach Travis Ford: "I'm hoping because it's taking so long that it's a good sign. That's what I'm reading into it, but y'all know as much as I do. I have no idea."
The NCAA allows provisions for extenuating circumstances, and in similar cases appeals have been granted.
If the appeal is denied, Olukemi won't be able to play past the fall semester, meaning he would miss Big 12 action for a second straight season after tearing an ACL on New Year's Eve last year. With the season less than three weeks ago, he is able to practice most days but is not fully healed.
Olukemi is one of the candidates to replace Brian Williams, who is out for the year with a wrist injury sustained in practice last week.
"With Brian being out, he becomes a much bigger factor," Ford said. "He's a guy I was kind of going to let come along with his injuries, but now he's going to have to play a bigger role a little bit quicker."
With the Cowboys being young this year, Olukemi's experience could be a major asset.
"J.P. might be the most physical player on our basketball team," Ford said. "He's probably one of our top 3-point shooters and he can score inside."
While Olukemi is competing for a spot in the starting lineup, he said that's not his main concern. He wants to contribute any way he can - and for as long as possible.
"I understand (the eligibility situation) is lingering over my head, but I'm still going to go out and practice hard," he said. "I'm still going to play every game hard."
Men vs. Ottawa (Kan.)
7 p.m. Nov. 1
Original Print Headline: OSU's Olukemi still not sure of eligibility status
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452