After receiving surprising bonus year, Carmouche transfers from Memphis

Charles Carmouche surprisingly earned another year of eligibility. His subsequent departure from the Tigers came as no shock, though. (US Presswire)

This one … this is a curious one.

Somehow, to almost everyone’s surprise, Memphis’ Charles Carmouche was granted a fifth year of eligibility earlier this week. That decision didn’t come from the NCAA, either. Since his hardship waiver was tied to an injury from last season, protocol mandates a player appeal to his conference offices for the extra year. Only then, if the conference rejects the application, does the player head to Big Brother up in Indianapolis.

Turns out a plea to headquarters wasn't necessary because, again, Charles Carmouche, a player most casual college basketball fans don’t know exists, will be playing D-I in 2012-13 after merely enduring some fairly regular wear and tear on his knees. Good for him for acting on a hunch and winning out. In most cases, I'm not against a player seeking to keep his college career alive. Anyone that wants to stay around college for as long as possible, well, can't most of us relate to that?

Still, it's a bit surprising that Carmouche gets another year, while a like Tim Abromaitis' was turned down. In this case, it seems Carmouche was blessed with being in the right conference with the right injury at the right time.

Here's where we get a little inside college basketball for you. It was announced Friday that Carmouche would play out his final season in D-I somewhere that wasn't Memphis. Carmouche graduated from Memphis in May, so he's free to play wherever a school is willing to take him, and he won't have to sit a year due to the grad-transfer rule (which is likely to get a serious examination and renewed debate within the NCAA offices later this year).

Carmouche will be a second-time transfer. He played his first two seasons at the University of New Orleans, then transferred north once UNO dropped out of D-I. The past two years, Carmouche averaged 6.9 points per game for Memphis. Even still, that humble number is a little misleading, since Carmouche only played seven games in 2011-12.

And that's where we get to the tricky thing about all of this. From what I gather, the Memphis coaching staff absolutely did not expect Carmouche to get another season of eligibility. He essentially chose to sit out the remainder of the year after he was medically cleared to play in January following a team suspension and reported tendinitis in his knees. His seven-game total from 2011-12 cleared him to qualify for a medical redshirt season, but why would he get another year after choosing to sit when he was fully able to play?

Someone knew something, or had a hell of a hunch. Someone got in Carmouche’s ear, and on a whim, the kid decided to apply for the extra year. His case isn’t all that dramatic, really, and the fact he was given the year sets an interesting precedent for Conference USA. How many others who get put in a 50/50 situation will opt to sit and hope for another year -- then transfer because of it?

Memphis will be very good next year; it won't need Carmouche to reach the NCAAs. Likewise, Carmouche will get a final year, and he'll get it at a place where he's promised minutes. That wasn't happening at Memphis for next year. He would've been a role player, one with perhaps a diminished input with the team. Carmouche is a decent player, one who should be applauded for getting his degree, but now he's off to find a new school and will need to do so swiftly. To ingrain himself with a new program, for one year, he'll have a limited pool to choose from and will seek to get on that campus by July.

But make no mistake: He will have suitors, and likely has for a while now. Of all the eligibility cases this offseason, this could be the most surprising. It makes us examine both the irregularity of eligibility cases, as well as the grad-transfer rule, which has flipped from an opportunity to an exploitation.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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