Initially ruled ineligible by the NCAA to play this season, Tez Walker is now officially reinstated following the NCAA "receiving new information" that was not "made available by UNC previously."
A transfer from Kent State, Walker was denied a waiver for immediate eligibility by the NCAA to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels this season.
"NCAA staff received new information regarding University of North Carolina student-athlete Tez Walker this week. Staff determined the new information qualifies Walker for a transfer waiver," the NCAA said in a statement. "The information had not been made available by UNC previously, despite the school's multiple chances to do so."
Under the current rules, players are allowed to immediately transfer once, but there are restrictions for a second time.
In the wake of Walker's ineligibility, the Tar Heels and head coach Mack Brown didn't take kindly to the news.
A statement from UNC HC Mack Brown on Tez Walker pic.twitter.com/ngm5jKlL20
— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) September 7, 2023
The full statement can be read above, and as you can see, it was scathing to say the least. The highlight from it includes a section that reads, "Plain and simple, the NCAA has failed Tez and his family and I've lost all faith in its ability to lead and govern our sport," Brown said. "They've messed so many things up as it relates to college football, and now their failures have negatively impacted the life of one of our own. Shame on you, NCAA."
Now, with Walker reinstated on Wednesday, the NCAA fired back at North Carolina.
"It is unfortunate that UNC failed to provide this important information previously. While we must be careful not to compromise a student-athlete's right to privacy when it comes to sensitive issues, we want to assure the Division I membership and everyone watching how the new transfer rules are applied, that this meets the new transfer waiver standards," NCAA president Charlie Baker and Division I Board of Directors chair Jere Morehead said in a joint statement. "UNC's behavior and decision to wage a public relations campaign is inappropriate and outside the bounds of the process UNC's own staff supported. Had the UNC staff not behaved in this fashion and submitted this information weeks ago, this entire unfortunate episode could have been avoided."
Now, in response to his reinstatement, Brown was more tame this time.
"We want to express our gratitude to the people at UNC who have worked tirelessly to assist Tez. We never gave up. We also want to thank the NCAA for being willing to re-examine Tez's case, and ultimately deciding to grant him his eligibility," Brown said. "This is, and always has been, about the welfare of this young man, and we can't wait to see him on the field doing what he loves to do."
UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham is glad Walker is reinstated, but isn't letting the NCAA off the hook when it comes to their analysis of the situation.
"We are happy that Tez Walker is now eligible to play and enjoy doing what he loves to do. However, the justification provided by the NCAA is not accurate," Cunningham said. "The university submitted all necessary information and documentation as it was made available to us at the time and we still believe Tez met all standards for the waiver in early August. It is not clear why the NCAA delayed making the correct decision then, but we are pleased to get the appropriate resolution now."
Walker was also ecstatic when he found out the news.
"I'm so excited and thankful that the NCAA has granted my eligibility to play this season. This hasn't been easy, but I'm looking forward to putting this in the past and moving forward," Walker said in a statement. "I always knew UNC was a special place, but it's proven it over and over again throughout the last few months. I've received so much support from the university, the athletic department, my coaches, the staff and my teammates. Most of all, I've felt so much love from the fans. Whether it was people trying to pick me up on social media or fans chanting for me at games, I've felt supported and I can't tell you how much it's meant to me. I can't wait to put on that jersey, run out of the tunnel and play in Kenan Stadium. I've been dreaming of this for a long time and now it will be a reality. See everyone on Saturday."
— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) October 5, 2023
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