COLUMBIA — It's been a long wait for Tony Mitchell and the Missouri men's basketball team.
In order for Mitchell, one of Missouri's most prized recruits, to play basketball for the Tigers this season, the NCAA must declare him academically eligible by Tuesday, the deadline to enroll in classes at MU. If the NCAA does not make a ruling by that date, then Mitchell will not be able to play basketball for Missouri this semester.
It has been reported by Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star that the NCAA recently ruled Mitchell to be ineligible, and that Missouri was appealing the decision. And, according to Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis, late last week, Missouri reportedly received a FedEx package from one of Mitchell’s former schools, Center of Life Academy in Miami, Fla., that contained new details about Mitchell's academics and that Missouri is appealing the NCAA’s decision with the new material.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound small forward, was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 12 high school recruit in the nation. Questions were raised about credits Mitchell brought with him from Center of Life Academy when he transferred to Pinkston High School in Dallas. Fourteen of those credits were nontransferable, and make-up credits ended up being taken away because of disputed testing.
The MU admissions office refused to comment to the Missourian, saying that until Mitchell is a student at the university, they have no information on the issue. The NCAA also refused to give any details to the Missourian on Mitchell's situation.
“The NCAA Eligibility Center and the University of Missouri are working together to determine the initial eligibility of the prospective student-athlete,” Chuck Wynne, director of communication strategy of the NCAA, said in November. “The review is ongoing and it would be premature to speculate on its outcome.”
While Mitchell remains optimistic in Facebook postings that he will be at Missouri this semester, it isn't looking good for him. Mitchell’s case is taking much longer to resolve than other high-profile cases, such as Kansas’ Josh Selby, who was cleared to play at the end of November.
Todd Leyden, president of the NCAA Eligibility Center, said that when a particular certification appears to take too long, it’s because something in the information provided by the prospective student-athlete has caused the NCAA to take a closer look. This could include an amateurism questionnaire with an answer indicating that eligibility could be jeopardized, or, in Mitchell’s case, an academic transcript with courses that need investigating.
“If it’s taking a long time, there’s usually a reason for it,” Leyden said. “But we need to be thorough and fair.”