GAINESVILLE -- Chris 'Sky' Walker is finally free to soar.
No. 3 Florida's 6-foot-10 McDonald's All-American forward -- cleared Wednesday by the NCAA -- will make his collegiate debut Feb. 4 in primetime when UF hosts Missouri (9 p.m., ESPN).
“We’re glad there’s a resolution for everyone involved, especially Chris,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said in a news release.
“We appreciate everyone’s participation in this process and are ready to move forward.”
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman first reported Walker’s reinstatement, with the NCAA and university quickly confirming the sourced report.
According to a release by the NCAA, Walker received a 12-game suspension -- or 40 percent of the season -- for accepting impermissible benefits from five people, including two agents.
The report states Walker received “free cell phones and service, airfare, lodging, meals and apparel.”
Additionally, “individuals close to Walker received free airfare and lodging for nine different trips, including eight associated with Walker’s non-scholastic [AAU] basketball team competitions.”
The five-star forward is required to donate the $270 he received from agents to a charity of his choice and perform 80 hours of community service.
“I appreciate all the support from UF, Coach Donovan and my teammates,” Walker said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to helping the team any way I can.”
He later tweeted...
The report states Walker was declared ineligible by the NCAA [at an unspecified date] and then Florida filed for Walker’s reinstatement Jan. 21. The two parties “worked to finalize the facts” until Wednesday’s decision.
“The NCAA membership has expressed continued concern about how third-party influence, improper agent involvement and the role of non-scholastic basketball impact student-athletes and prospects,” Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, said in the statement.
“Out of concern for student-athletes’ wellbeing, our members have created rules that limit the involvement of these individuals. The 12 games Mr. Walker was required to sit out reflect the significance of these violations.”
Walker, a freak finisher and shot-blocker as prep prospect, didn’t enroll at Florida until Dec. 14 after failing to qualify academically last summer. The Bonifay native, who led Holmes County to the 1A state finals, spent the fall getting his academics in order, eventually completing the necessary requirements to enroll for the spring semester.
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