Virginia women's basketball coach Debbie Ryan said today that she has canceled junior guard Erin Stovall's scholarship following Stovall's voluntary departure from the team three weeks ago and Ryan's refusal to reinstate her.
Stovall, a preseason all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, had been starting and averaging 13.8 points per game when she left the team for personal reasons. She asked Ryan on Wednesday to let her rejoin the team. Ryan declined, citing the team's current chemistry and Stovall's well-being.
The Cavaliers have won six consecutive games since Stovall's departure, which occurred prior to their game Dec. 20 against Virginia Tech.
"When she initially left, I asked her to think about it for a few days, and she said she would," Ryan said. "She didn't get back to me, even before the Virginia Tech game. I didn't hear from her, didn't know what was going on, until she left a message on the machine Christmas Eve saying to call her. You just can't leave your team waiting. . . . I honestly feel Erin needs this time away from basketball right now. I have no ill will toward Erin."
Ryan said the cancellation of Stovall's scholarship was automatic, and she had done the same thing when guard Tiffany Bower left the team in December 1998.
Stovall said today that she was unaware her scholarship had been canceled. She said Thursday night that she got married on Jan. 1, is enrolled for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 19, and intends to graduate this summer. She offered no reaction to Ryan's decision, but said Ryan did not mention the scholarship during their meeting Wednesday.
Ryan said she raised the issue with Stovall during a previous meeting.
"I mentioned it to her in the last meeting we had, in December, that she was on her own for this semester," Ryan said. "I didn't go into it then, but Erin should have known. All athletes are required to sign a contract saying they will not violate the terms of their scholarship."
A section of the student-athlete guidebook titled "Conditions that MAY cause your athletic grant to be reduced or canceled," states, in part: ". . . if you . . . voluntarily withdraw, it will result in your athletics grant-in-aid being prorated [cancelled] for the balance of the academic year."