Sources: Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi cleared to play this season for Ducks
Arsalan Kazemi was slated to finish his career at Rice, but decided to transfer to Oregon last month. The 6-foot-7 forward, who averaged a double-double last season, received word from the NCAA on Thursday that he will be able to play this season.
|Kazemi. (Oregon Athletics)|
Rice's star player and senior forward opted to leave Ben Braun & Co. last month as part of what has been a mass defection at the Houston school. His former teammate, Omar Oraby, was cleared to play last week for USC -- and now the Ducks have added a significant piece.
Dana Altman and his staff received word on Thursday afternoon, sources told CBSSports.com, that the 6-foot-7 native of Iran, who averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, received a waiver from the NCAA to play this season for Oregon.
The addition of Kazemi could put the Ducks in position to battle for a postseason spot. Arizona and UCLA are considered the co-favorites (as long as Shabazz Muhammad is eventually cleared by the NCAA), but the remainder of the league race is fairly wide open.
The Ducks have a core that now includes veterans E.J. Singler and Kazemi, talented-yet-enigmatic big man Tony Woods and freshman point guard Dominic Artis.
As part of their applications for waivers that would prevent the players from sitting out a season in accordance with NCAA rules, Rice has acknowledged that the players cited racial discrimination on the part of the athletic department. Sources told CBSSports.com those allegations were made primarily against Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan.
Rice university spokesman B.J. Almond provided a statement to CBSSports regarding those allegations:
"As a matter of policy, Rice University avoids commenting on personnel matters or matters before the NCAA. However, allegations involving two former men’s basketball players require a brief response.
In September 2012, two student-athletes received permission from Rice to transfer to the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon. Both schools have sought a waiver of the NCAA’s one-year residency rule so that the students can compete in the upcoming basketball season. Unfortunately, USC and Oregon have included in those waiver applications meritless allegations of discrimination, including some previously asserted by a former assistant basketball coach whose contract was not renewed last spring.
Rice head basketball Coach Ben Braun and Athletics Director Rick Greenspan strongly deny those allegations. Rice University has a strong institutional commitment to tolerance and diversity, and both Braun and Greenspan share those values and provide services and programs that accommodate the needs of a diverse student-athlete population.
Rice does not stand in the way of student-athletes who may wish to compete elsewhere, consistent with NCAA rules. When these two student-athletes requested Rice’s permission to explore transfers to other universities, Rice readily agreed, as it has in the past for other student-athletes. However, the efforts by USC and Oregon to set aside NCAA rules have included unfounded claims of discrimination and, as a result, Rice opposed the granting of the waivers and will address the allegations of discrimination in appropriate forums.
Rice University has a long history of successful, rule-compliant athletics programs that support its student-athletes in the field of play, as well as in the classroom and community, and it fully intends to defend that honorable record."
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