By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Gus Gilchrist, a 6-foot-9 center who was expected to have a major impact on the Maryland men's basketball team next season, has been granted his release to transfer, marking the latest and most significant setback for the Terrapins this offseason.
Gilchrist, who enrolled at Maryland in January, was to have 2 1/2 years of eligibility beginning in December. But Gilchrist decided he is willing to sit out the 2008-09 season, as NCAA transfer rules require, so he could have four years of eligibility remaining once he becomes eligible at another school, according to his trainer, Terrelle Woody.
"The difference is that if he sits out the whole year, he still comes back with four years of eligibility" in the fall of 2009, Woody said. "At Maryland, it would be [2 1/2 ] years of eligibility. He is a young kid so he needs his opportunity to play four years of college basketball."
Gilchrist, who originally signed with Virginia Tech, was required to sit out a year before he was eligible at Maryland because of ACC intra-conference transfer rules. Maryland filed one appeal with the ACC in November, and Woody said another was filed with the conference in April. Both were unsuccessful.
"I would like to thank Coach Williams and the basketball staff at Maryland for all of their support and attempts in appealing this process," Gilchrist said in a statement. "I wish them the best in the future."
Woody said the decision was difficult for Gilchrist because he had a strong relationship with Maryland Coach Gary Williams and had developed friendships with teammates Greivis Vasquez, Cliff Tucker and Landon Milbourne. Williams said in a news release that Gilchrist asked for a release to "explore other options which may allow him to play more games at another university outside the Atlantic Coast Conference, pending an NCAA waiver."
One summer league basketball source familiar with Gilchrist expressed some disappointment with his decision because "the kid needs a stable situation" and said that South Florida has emerged as a possible destination. The only way Gilchrist would be eligible to play at the start of this coming season at another school would be if he received a waiver so he would not have to sit out one year.
"I don't think there is a good opportunity to get that waived, but the school he transfers to will have to put that appeal forward," said Kathleen Worthington, Maryland's senior associate athletics director. "I think he believed he will be able to get that NCAA waiver and be immediately eligible to play. From my review of waivers of this type, when your reason is that you want to transfer so you have more playing time, they are usually not approved -- unless there is a real hardship waiver."
Gilchrist, who attended Progressive Christian Academy in Temple Hills, was expected to be a major contributor in Maryland's front court after the graduation of seniors James Gist and Bambale Osby. Maryland's back court also took a hit last month when recruit Tyree Evans, a heralded guard with a history of legal troubles, was granted his release.
"Coach Williams was the reason Gus came to the school," Woody said. "He has kept his word in every situation. I really thank Coach Williams for helping Gus through everything this year because it has been very hard for him."