Echoing his men’s basketball coach, South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner said Friday that he’s confident in Brian Bowen’s chances to be reinstated by the NCAA.
Bowen, the former Louisville signee tied to the FBI probe that brought down Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, is enrolled at USC and was expected to begin practicing with Frank Martin’s Gamecocks on Friday. Per NCAA transfer rules, Bowen is to sit two semesters (spring 2018 and fall 2018) before playing in games.
“Could it change?,” Tanner told reporters at Williams-Brice Stadium. “It could possibly change. He didn’t play in the fall (2017), but I’m speaking out of turn here. It remains to be seen. Certainly we would be optimistic and hopeful that, if it follows a normal process, then he would be able to play next spring. If it’s earlier than that, fantastic.”
Bowen, whose father allegedly accepted “about $19,500” on his son’s behalf to sign with Louisville, was suspended and left the Cardinals program in November. He must be reinstated by the NCAA to be game-eligible.
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Martin told reporters Thursday that Carolina’s recruitment of Bowen, a 6-foot-7 small forward and former McDonald’s All-American, began “during the second, third week of December.”
“Certainly, when it was brought to my attention, it was vetted out at the highest level,” Tanner said. “It involved a lot of people in a short period of time. Coach Martin and I know each other very well. I believe in his instincts, and he had done some research prior to coming to me.
“I’ll just tell you, and I hope I don’t speak out of turn, but Brian Bowen hasn’t been charged with anything, and I haven’t been given any information that he’s a suspect in the investigation. I know he had a very good fall academically and he had an opportunity to enter the University of South Carolina this spring, he’s been accepted and that’s where we are.”
Martin said Thursday that Bowen earned a 3.5 grade point average in the fall semester at Louisville. Martin also sang the praises of Tanner, USC president Harris Pastides and compliance director Chance Miller to illustrate his trust in the Bowen process going forward.
“Chance Miller’s a star,” Martin said. “There’s some people you come across that are good at their jobs, and then there’s others that are stars at their job. He’s a star at his job.
“He’s about kids, and he protects this campus. That’s education, that’s what it’s about. It’s about helping people.
“If someone does something wrong, yeah, of course there’s gonna be penalties and all that. We get all that, but let’s not start judging people on mistakes. Let’s not start doing that, because we need to look in the mirror when we do that stuff.”
Tanner said he met with Bowen and his family earlier this week.
”We’re a university that provides opportunities,” Tanner said, “and we felt in this case denying an opportunity wasn’t the right thing to do. So we’re moving forward.”