Incoming St. John's freshman Marcus LoVett was ruled partial qualifier by NCAA. LoVett can practice, but not compete, but university and family may sue on his behalf. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times)
The workmanlike climb for St. John's is now steeper.
Point guard Marcus LoVett, the highly touted Chicago product who had been expected to step in immediately as the Red Storm's floor general, was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA moments ago.
While LoVett is allowed to participate in practices, he must complete a year in residence before receiving approval to compete in games. After exhausting the appeals process to seek a positive ruling, St. John's was offically informed of the final decision rendered by college basketball's sanctioning body.
"The University disagrees with the NCAA's decision and the process it used in reviewing Marcus' initial eligibility waiver request," St. John's interim athletic director Joseph Oliva, who also doubles as general counsel for the university, said through a release. "We have engaged in several conversations with the NCAA to express our concerns that their process may have violated Marcus' legal rights. Unfortunately, it appears that the NCAA elected to disregard these concerns."
"We have advised Marcus and his family to consult with appropriate legal counsel about the options that may be available to challenge the NCAA ruling and the standards it applied in this process," Oliva continued.
LoVett attended three different high schools before signing with St. John's, his last being Morgan Park High School in Chicago, which sources told Zach Braziller; who covers the Red Storm for the New York Post, was at the forefront of the NCAA's investigation. The same sources considered this matter an "open-and-shut case," expressing to Braziller that St. John's believed LoVett, who had taken night classes in an effort to expedite his clearance, had done enough to receive a positive word.
Head coach Chris Mullin, who called the situation "absurd" following the Red Storm's exhibition win over Sonoma State last Saturday, offered his sympathy in a release.
"Marcus and his family have been patient throughout this lengthy process," the coach stated. "Marcus deserves to play and has done everything asked of him. Our staff is here to encourage Marcus as he continues to work hard on and off the court to be prepared to compete next season."
In his absence, Italian freshman Federico Mussini, who was initially pegged to be the backup point guard, now goes about the task of replacing Rysheed Jordan as the controller of the Red Storm offense. In St. John's two exhibition games, Mussini scored 21 points, but also committed 11 turnovers.