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NCAA denies Alabama waiver request for Smelley

HOOVER, Ala. | Former South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley won't likely get to play baseball for Alabama this season.

The NCAA denied a waiver request of eligibility rules for Smelley, who transferred to his hometown university to play baseball.

"He can't help us this year," Crimson Tide coach Jim Wells said.

Alabama has appealed the decision. The Tide had received a waiver from the Southeastern Conference for Smelley to be able to compete immediately.

Mike Ward, Alabama's associate athletic director for compliance, said that a ruling on the appeal could come as early as next week.

"The university believes there are extenuating circumstances that merit the NCAA waiver and will continue to put forth its case. Smelley will continue to practice with the team," Ward said in an e-mail to The Tuscaloosa News.

Smelley will still have two years of eligibility in baseball if the appeal is denied, Ward said. He did not play baseball at South Carolina.

Under new rules enacted starting this season, the NCAA requires baseball players to sit out a season after transferring as they have in football and basketball.

Alabama claims in its appeal that the requirement wasn't intended for players who didn't participate in the sport at their former school.

Smelley was an all-state football and baseball player at Tuscaloosa's American Christian Academy and has been practicing with the Tide as a catcher.

He played football for South Carolina for three seasons, starting 15 games after redshirting in 2006.

Smelley helped American Christian win three Class 1A state baseball championships.

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