The news on the Twitter circuit Monday and Tuesday had Chris Walker cleared by the NCAA to play basketball Saturday when 6th-ranked Florida (15-2, 4-0 SEC) plays host to Tennessee (11-6, 2-2 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. As pleasant a thought as that might be given what Walker has had to go through so far in an attempt to become eligible to play for the Gators, it’s just not true according to Florida coach Billy Donovan.
“As it relates to Chris, just listen to us and our school,” Donovan said Tuesday afternoon when asked if there was any truth to the rumor that Walker had been cleared. “I’m not going to address it anymore. Certainly we’re hopeful he gets back soon, but there’s been no indication that there’s any truth to that at all. Whenever he gets cleared – and certainly we all hope it’s soon, believe me – I’m not going to throw a guy in a game and have him pop up and you guys not be aware of it. The minute he gets eligible, cleared and he’s able to play, I’ll let you know. Anything else that’s out there about that is not true.”
Walker has been enrolled at Florida since the day after final exams in December. He is attending classes and practices daily but he has not been allowed to play in a game. While people who have known Walker for some time indicate the holdup has something to do with things that happened on the AAU circuit in the summer before Walker’s senior year at Holmes County High School (Bonifay, Florida), Donovan says that he is unaware of all the details involved in the situation.
“The hardest part for me is I don’t know all the details because it doesn’t involve our institution,” Donovan said. “I’m just focusing on our team, the guys that are here right now and letting our administration handle it. I have not been privy to any conversations between the NCAA, our school, Chris or any of those other things.”
Donovan has kept Walker’s focus on learning the offense and defense, getting in game condition and helping the 6-10 McDonald’s All-American adjust to life as a college student, both on and off the court.
“The only thing I’ve been trying to do with Chris is each and every day trying to help him get better as a player, provide the resources he needs academically, try to work with him on the court to get better,” Donovan said. “In terms of all the details and hang ups, I don’t know all those details because when there’s something going on like this, there’s ethical conduct forms that are signed. That stuff has to be kept confidential, be kept between Chris and the NCAA, kept between our administration and the NCAA.
“I’m not involved in any of those conversations. I trust our administration and what they’re doing. Hopefully it will be resolved in a timely fashion. I know everyone is involved one way or another to know what’s going to happen.”