NCAA grants transfer waivers to Baylor players

Updated: August 20, 2003, 11:03 PM ET

WACO, Texas -- Baylor basketball players who transfer to another school because of Baylor's self-imposed probation will be exempt from an NCAA rule that they sit out a year, NCAA officials ruled Wednesday.

"The waivers have been granted," said Jeff Howard, NCAA director of public relations. "The transfers will not have to sit out."

Baylor President Robert Sloan Jr. offered all players a release from their scholarships Aug. 8, allowing them to transfer to other schools after announcing that major violations had been found in the basketball program. He asked the NCAA to waive its rule that players transferring within NCAA Division I schools sit out one year before being eligible.

Although the NCAA has waived its rule, individual conference rules still apply, Howard said.

The Big 12 Conference requires players transferring within the league to sit out a year. Baylor junior forward Kenny Taylor said Tuesday that he will transfer to Texas.

It was not immediately clear if the Big 12 would consider transfer waivers for Baylor players. Calls by The Associated Press to Big 12 officials Wednesday night were not immediately returned.

The ruling was made by a five-person subcommittee of the NCAA's Management Council called the Administrative Review Subcommittee.

Howard was unsure if the NCAA had ever granted such a blanket ruling about transfer waivers.

"I can't say for sure that this has never happened," he said. "But this was definitely a very unusual circumstance."

Lawrence Roberts, Baylor's top scorer and rebounder last season, said Monday he will transfer to Mississippi State.

Roberts was excited Wednesday night about the NCAA decision.

"That means a lot because that is what we were shooting for -- to be able to transfer and play immediately," Roberts said in an interview with Houston television station KRIV. "That's huge, being able to transfer and play right away keeps the fire going."

Junior guard John Lucas III has also requested his release, as have sophomore forward Tommy Swanson and junior college transfer Harvey Thomas.

Lucas has said losing a year of eligibility would be a deterrent to transferring.

Baylor recruit Tyrone Nelson, a center, enrolled at Prairie View A&M last week.

The school launched an internal inquiry in July into possible NCAA violations, after allegations surfaced of improper payments to players following slain player Patrick Dennehy's disappearance. Coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned Aug. 8.

The school then placed itself on a two-year probation and won't participate in any postseason tournaments next season, including the Big 12 tournament. All players were offered a release from their scholarships, allowing them to transfer to other schools.

Howard said the university presents the facts to NCAA and then the facts are reviewed by staff and committees before a ruling is made.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index