NCAA denies Buckles' appeal to transfer
Rakeem Buckles has been denied an appeal to transfer to Minnesota and play this season and will likely return to Florida International, Gophers coach Richard Pitino told ESPN.com.
The 6-foot-7 forward played his first three seasons at Louisville for Pitino's father, Rick Pitino. Buckles twice suffered season-ending ACL injuries while with the Cardinals and decided to transfer to Florida International for his senior season.
Buckles sat out last season at FIU, then decided to follow Richard Pitino to Minnesota after he learned that FIU was ineligible for the postseason because of low academic scores dating to the Isiah Thomas regime. Now it's likely that Buckles will return to FIU and play this season for new coach Anthony Evans.
Buckles wouldn't have been the first player with one year of eligibility remaining to receive a waiver from the NCAA to transfer and be able to play immediately because of a postseason ban. Alex Oriakhi left UConn and played last season at Missouri, and Malik Smith was cleared by the NCAA after going from Minnesota to FIU.
Rick Pitino recently expressed his frustration with the NCAA's initial decision to block Buckles' transfer.
"I'm just blown away by it. It makes no sense. It's amazing the NCAA can do this," Pitino told ESPN.com. "He's a model student-athlete who had a 3.2 GPA when he left Louisville. He just wants a chance to play in another NCAA tournament."
"[Buckles] had no idea that the program wouldn't be able to play in the NCAA tournament when he transferred to FIU," Rick Pitino added. "This is a good kid who has dealt with plenty of adversity over his career. It's completely unfair."
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