Monday, October 08, 2012

Nic Kerdiles Ineligible For Now

College hockey season is underway, as evidenced by tweets I saw from people relaying actual scores over the weekend.

UMD opens Friday at home against Ohio State, which means I finally have some content for this blog. Smiley

There is a potential controversy brewing down the road at Wisconsin. The Badgers played an exhibition game Saturday, whipping the US Under 18 Team 5-0 at the Kohl Center. UW has a number of talented freshmen on the roster, and almost all of them got their first chance to play in a college game over the weekend.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, the best of the bunch didn't get to play, and we don't know when he will.

Forward Nic Kerdiles played for the Under 18 program before enrolling at Wisconsin. An undisclosed issue with the NCAA prevented him from playing Saturday, and he won't play until the issue is resolved -- assuming it is.

A media release said school officials “are working with the NCAA toward a resolution of the situation” with Kerdiles, a second-round NHL draft pick of Anaheim and a strong student who was projected to be a top-line forward for the Badgers.

After his club registered a 5-0 victory before an announced crowd of 7,501, UW coach Mike Eaves would say only the NCAA has been looking into a specific matter “for a while” and he didn’t know when Kerdiles’ status for the season would be known.

“It’s not in my hands right now,” he said.

The fact that the news reports went out of their way to mention that Kerdiles is a strong student should tell you this is not an academic issue.

Some good reporting by Andy Johnson of Bucky's Fifth Quarter and Chris Peters of The United States of Hockey seems to have pinpointed at least the general problem with Kerdiles.

And it's stupid.

From Johnson:

Multiple sources have confirmed that Kerdiles' relationship with advisors from Pulver Sports has been called into question.

Pulver Sports is a full scale sports agency that specializes in the representation of hockey players. The agency is run by Ian Pulver, with some of their clients including Tyler Seguin, Nail Yakupov, and Alex Galchenyuk.

Sources told Bucky's 5th Quarter Sunday that the situation started because a photo on twitter surfaced of Kerdiles out to dinner at the NHL Draft with representatives from Pulver Sports.

Kerdiles deleted his Twitter account in mid-August, and sources have said that this NCAA situation is the reason he chose to delete his account.

Johnson notes that this has been percolating for a while, and UW was aware of the situation months ago. It wasn't sprung on Eaves and company last week or something.

Of course, it's amazing how slowly the NCAA can move when it wants to.

Reports surfaced in the summer of 2010 that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's recruitment was basically shopped around to the highest bidder by his father. Despite the obvious potential problems with eligibility, Newton was allowed to start the season with Auburn. Conveniently, the NCAA declared Newton eligible on Dec. 1, just in time for the SEC title game and BCS championship.

In this case, it seems Kerdiles may or may not have had a dinner paid for him while he was at the NHL Draft. As a result, he can't play until the NCAA says it's okay.

It's ridiculous. The NCAA is so two-faced that it's beyond anyone's comprehension. Cam Newton can play because "he didn't know his dad was shopping him to the highest bidder," even though he wasn't exactly estranged from his father.

Now, an athlete who might actually have interest in being a student -- even if only for a year or two at first -- is being forced to twist in the wind over a photograph of a dinner with his recognized advisor.

It's hard enough for college hockey to compete for top talent, given the rules that exist, along with the thoughts some NHL organizations have regarding the college route. The NCAA's own archaic rules, seemingly endless investigations, and mind-numbing rulings only make matters worse.

Only the NCAA knows why Kerdiles can't play pending an eligibility investigation, while Newton was allowed to win a Heisman Trophy during his.

But for the rest of us, it's looney-bin worthy.

As a college hockey fan, it'd be nice to see this resolved in UW's favor soon. Kerdiles is a hell of a talent, the kind of kid who would be fun to watch play college hockey. It won't be nearly as much fun to get the news that he's major junior-bound because the NCAA can't figure this out.

(Major junior isn't his No. 1 choice, from the sounds of it, but there's no way he sits an entire season without playing somewhere. No chance. And if he has to go to the WHL to play, he'll go to the WHL.)

Wisconsin visits UMD on Oct. 26 and 27. Obviously, UMD's chances at points are enhanced if Kerdiles isn't playing by then, but I still kind of wish he is able to play. Beating the Badgers at their best would be more fun.

UPDATE (12:45pm, Monday): Per tweets from Johnson and the indefatigable Andy Baggot, Wisconsin is appealing an NCAA ruling that Kerdiles must sit out the 2012-13 season. I don't know this for certain, but it has to be a move that will end up sending Kerdiles to the WHL. I can't see him sitting out a season as a second-round pick, unless he really wants to be a Badger.

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