CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Bearcats fourth-year center Aziz Bandaogo has been granted a waiver for immediate eligibility by the NCAA, the university announced Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Bandaogo moved to Cincinnati in May from Utah Valley and applied for a mental health waiver for immediate eligibility as a two-time transfer. His initial request was denied in October and then on appeal earlier this month.
- Despite the denial of the appeal, Bandaogo’s waiver was immediately approved by the NCAA on Monday, similar to the situation involving North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker. The waiver was granted because of “new information” according to program sources familiar with the decision, which echoed the same verbiage used in Walker’s approval.
- The 7-foot native of Senegal won Utah Valley’s WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2022-23, averaging 11.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots. Bandaogo spent his first two seasons in Akron.
- The Bearcats opened the 2023-24 season 4-0. Bandaogo is expected to make his Cincinnati debut on Wednesday at home against Georgia Tech.
What they say
“The day I’ve been dreaming of for a long time has finally arrived. I am grateful that the NCAA re-examined my case and granted my immediate eligibility,” Bandaogo said in a statement. “I am very grateful to my teammates, our coaching staff, administration and fans for continuing to support me. Ohio is my American home away from home. I can’t wait to make my Cincinnati debut and give this program everything I have. Go Bearcats!”
Bearcats head coach Wes Miller said he was “thrilled” with the news.
“This process has been extremely difficult for Aziz and our entire team and I’m glad he can now focus on being the best student-athlete he can be for the Bearcats,” Miller said in a statement. “We thank the NCAA for reconsidering his case, and finally coming to this decision. I want to thank John Cunningham, President Pinto and the many people at the University of Cincinnati who supported Aziz during this process.
Cincinnati and Bandaogo are clearly ready for a fight against the NCAA, with Bandaogo retaining legal representation, gaining political support, and Miller speaking out against the decision to deny his eligibility on multiple occasions. , including Big 12 media day. The NCAA ultimately reversed its previous denials before any formal litigation was filed.
Bandaogo hired the same law firms that represented Walker’s case, and Bandaogo also received support from Ohio attorney general Dave Yost.
Jamille Reynolds, another two-time transfer who joined Cincinnati from Temple this offseason, also applied for a mental health waiver for immediate eligibility. He also denied his first request in October, but Miller said Sunday that a decision on his appeal has yet to be made.
“Unfortunately, we still have another young man waiting to hear from the NCAA on his waiver for immediate eligibility,” Miller continued in his statement on Monday. “Our hope is that the NCAA will do the right thing in Jamille Reynolds’ case, as well.”
(Photo: Candice Ward / USA Today)