Senior co-captains to return vs. Texas Tech

Updated: January 16, 2004, 10:26 PM ET news services

WACO, Texas -- Two Baylor basketball players who were previously declared academically ineligible have been reinstated to the team and will be available for Saturday night's game against No. 22 Texas Tech.

Baylor (5-9, 0-1 Big 12) said the NCAA restored the eligibility for senior co-captains R.T. Guinn and Terrance Thomas. They were declared ineligible Jan. 3, leaving the Bears with just five scholarship players.

Guinn and Thomas failed to meet new academic standards in which a student must pass at least two classes to be eligible in the second semester.

The school requested their eligibility be restored.

"While this waiver decision by the NCAA staff is based on the merits, it is full of grace and understanding," said Michael Rogers, Baylor's faculty representative to the Big 12 and the NCAA.

"It was granted because of the totality of circumstances and events of the past six months, which have been unique and unimaginable."

Baylor coach Scott Drew said Guinn and Thomas would come off the bench against the Red Raiders. He said they had been practicing the past three weeks.

"I know they're really excited,'' Drew said. "You don't always get second chances.''

The basketball program has been rocked by scandal since last summer with reported NCAA violations, a self-imposed two year probation, the slaying of former player Patrick Dennehy and the murder charge against former teammate Carlton Dotson, and the resignation of coach Dave Bliss.

The NCAA then allowed players to transfer from Baylor without having to sit out a year in residence. Lawrence Roberts (Mississippi State), Kenny Taylor (Texas) and John Lucas (Oklahoma State) all left. Meanwhile, Drew dismissed Ellis Kidd during the season for a violation of team rules. Guinn and Thomas chose to stay with Baylor.

Thomas leads the Bears in scoring and rebounding with 18.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, as well as in minutes played (36.5). Guinn is the Bears' top shooter (53.5 percent), averaging 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

"I'm grateful to be able to play basketball again," Thomas said. senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.