Mack Brown blasts NCAA for denying Tarheels’ appeal of Devontez Walker’s eligibility after transfer from Kent State to UNC

University of North Carolina football coach Mack Brown has become upset with the NCAA after it rejected the Tarheels’ appeal efforts for transfer receiver Devontez Walker’s immediate eligibility.

The school announced the decision less than a week after Walker roamed the sidelines but did not play during the 17th-ranked Tar Heels’ season-opening win over South Carolina.

When the decision was announced, Brown concluded his long and blunt statement: “Shame on you, NCAA. SHAME ON YOU!”

NCAA rules generally allow players to transfer freely once, but the association considers Walker a two-way transfer because he enrolled at North Carolina Central before landing at Kent State.

The Eagles did not play football during Walker’s time at North Carolina Central due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so he only played for Kent State (two seasons).

Mack Brown was upset with the NCAA after it rejected the appeal for Tez Walker

Mack Brown was upset with the NCAA after it rejected the appeal for Tez Walker

Tez Walker has been denied eligibility by the NCAA for the entire 2023 football season

Tez Walker has been denied eligibility by the NCAA for the entire 2023 football season

And he enrolled at UNC in January, days before a rule change that limited free movement by two-time transfers. The decision means Walker must spend a year in Chapel Hill before becoming eligible to play next year, a route that was traditionally the norm for transfers before the current era of free agency through the transfer portal.

“It’s clear that the NCAA is about process and doesn’t care about the young people it’s supposed to support,” Brown said.

“Plain and simple, the NCAA has failed Tez and his family and I have lost all confidence in their ability to lead and govern our sport.”

“They screwed up so many things when it comes to college football, and now their mistakes have negatively impacted the lives of one of us.”

Still, the NCAA’s stance has drawn much criticism across the country, including during ABC’s national broadcast of UNC’s opener and even from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

“The NCAA had an opportunity to demonstrate that it is a new membership organization by using common sense, reason and compassion to determine Tez Walker’s eligibility,” Cunningham’s statement began.

He later added: “Instead, the NCAA made a crazy, frustrating and wrong decision – for Tez, for college football and for college athletics.”

In a separate statement, Cunningham said the NCAA denied Walker clearance a total of eight times. He said the decision “undermines the fair treatment” of athletes and undermines the public’s trust in the NCAA’s leadership.

The 17th-ranked University of North Carolina Tarheels will face Appalachian State on Saturday

The 17th-ranked University of North Carolina Tarheels will face Appalachian State on Saturday

The NCAA released a statement Thursday discussing the eligibility review process but declining to comment on specific cases. The Division I Council decided earlier this year that multiple transfers must document injuries, illnesses or mental health concerns that necessitate the transfer, or issues related to the athlete’s safety.

Stephen LaPorta, James Madison’s associate athletics director for compliance, served as chairman of the committee that considered UNC’s latest appeal. He pointed to the NCAA’s requirements, approved in April, for member schools to provide athletes with more mental health resources and medical support.

“Student-athletes who transfer a second time and do not receive an immediate waiver of participation will continue to have these resources and support systems available to them as they adjust to their new schools before competing next year,” LaPorta said.

Walker’s mental health is one of several factors UNC cited in its argument. A Charlotte native, he had transferred to Kent State after a coaching change to be closer to family, particularly his grandmother with multiple medical conditions who couldn’t travel to the state to see him play.

Brown said Walker — who was expected to be the top target for star quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Drake Maye — was dejected and struggling emotionally amid the uncertainty leading up to the opener.

He was originally scheduled to play at East Tennessee State before suffering a knee injury that caused him to defer enrollment. Instead, he bounced back and ended up at North Carolina Central, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the fall 2020 season at the Championship Subdivision level. Then the team waived the limited roster for spring 2021, leading to his transfer to Kent State.

Cunningham said both schools supported Walker’s application, adding that Walker is a dean’s list student who will graduate this December.

His teammates also stood behind him. The Tar Heels gave Walker the game ball after beating the Gamecocks, while Maye wore Walker’s jersey backwards during postgame interviews – ensuring Walker’s name was visible on his chest.

“He’s had a hard time and this will certainly only make it worse,” Brown said Thursday. “How dare (the NCAA) ever talk about student-athlete mental health and well-being again?”

Maureen Mackey

Maureen Mackey is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Maureen Mackey joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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