Te’a Cooper, the junior guard who transferred to South Carolina from Tennessee this past offseason, will sit out at least the first half of the season as the Gamecocks delay asking for a waiver to let her play until December, according to coach Dawn Staley.
This announcement comes after Staley said nearly two weeks ago at SEC media day that the team had already submitted an application for the waiver and that she believed a decision would be made within a week.
But a week went by and no announcement regarding Cooper’s eligibility was made. Typically, undergraduate transfers must sit out one year at their new school before they are allowed to play, but Staley said the program is arguing that because Cooper missed her sophomore season at Tennessee because of a knee injury, she should be allowed to play right away.
“Yes, you have to serve a year of residency, but if you sat out and you have to sit out again, I do believe she’ll lose a year of eligibility. And we don’t want to penalize an athlete for that,” Staley said on Oct. 19.
This past Saturday, before the Gamecocks received their 2017 national championship rings, Staley said there had been no decision on Cooper and that the team had actually delayed asking for the waiver while “taking care of some things” for Cooper, who entered Tennessee as one of the most heralded prospects in the country.
On Tuesday, speaking on FanRag Sports’s “Dishin’ and Swishin’” podcast, Staley said that the timeline had been pushed back again.
“Well with Cooper, we’re probably not going to put the waiver in until December, that’s what we’re going to do,” Staley said when asked for an update by host David Siegel. “We’re going to give it hopefully a semester for her to get acclimated and hopefully half a year of residence will favor us come December.”
The fall semester for South Carolina ends on Dec. 18. If Cooper is deemed eligible to play for the spring semester, she will take the court in time for SEC conference play, which begins Dec. 31 against Texas A&M.