Ineligible Player Jeopardizes Conference Championships

October 29, 2008 11:52:50 PM PDT
A rules violation could cost Fresno State its women's basketball conference championships from last season, and it's taking a player off the court for this season.Bulldog guard Emma Andrews took the court tonight for the Red and White Scrimmage, just like she did for last year's conference champions. But the league could take the regular season and tournament championships away because when she was a teenager, Andrews also suited up for a semi-professional team back home in Australia.

The sophomore point guard pushes the ball up the court for Fresno State, but just by playing she may have pulled the entire team down.

During NCAA tournament, the league turned up evidence that Andrews played on a semi-pro team in Australia three years ago, and even though she never got paid, playing for that team was a rules violation. The university didn't find out until after the tournament and Andrews didn't think anything of it until the NCAA came calling. "This was just -- as she says it -- her mum's team, so it never occurred to her to write it down and let us know this happened," said Fresno State Senior Associate Athletics Director Betsy Mosher.

The league has ruled Andrews ineligible for this season and the first three games of next season, so while she can practice, she can't play in games or travel with the team.

And the Western Athletic Conference is still deciding if that punishment is enough. Since Andrews was technically ineligible for all of last season, the conference could take away the titles the team earned. "Until you have a final ruling, I'm always worried, but that's just the nature of what I do," Mosher said.

Coach Adrian Wiggins says he'll keep Andrews on scholarship and keep her energy around the team. And he says the NCAA needs to take another look at its rules on amateurs. "I think it's fair to have rules," he said. "I think it's fair to expect to go by the rules. We always try to honor that."

The league is currently reviewing its amateurship rules. For her part, Andrews is apologetic, but she's pledging to make the team better, even as she watches from the sidelines. "My aim now this year is to just be the hardest worker on my team," she said. "I'm going to show up every day and work extra hard every day."

Her teammates say they're worried about losing their championships, but they stand behind Andrews. They say she's a great teammate and they don't think she was intentionally hiding anything.

The conference should finalize its decision in the next month or so.

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