Oakland star forward Jalen Hayes has been told by the NCAA that he must miss the first four games of the season over a grade issue, athletic director Jeff Konya confirmed to The News on Tuesday.
Oakland is seeking a “reconsideration” from the NCAA in hopes of lessening or eliminating the punishment, Konya said.
Hayes, a redshirt senior who was named to the Horizon League preseason first-team, has a demanding major, human-resources development, which under university rules requires a 2.8 grade or better in all classes associated with the major. Hayes received a 2.5, which didn’t count as a passing grade — and that put him below the 18 credit hours the NCAA requires student-athletes to maintain in consecutive semesters.
The NCAA’s original punishment for Hayes was for him to miss the first term, meaning he would’ve been out until December.
The punishment was recently lowered to the first four games, which includes a marquee road game at Syracuse on Nov. 20, as well as home games against Fort Wayne and New Orleans and a road game at Toledo.
Fan Rag Sports’ Jon Rothstein first reported the news Tuesday.
“It’s tough to deal with this,” Hayes told Rothstein. “It’s something I didn’t coming into my last year. I’m on pace to graduate this year. One of the things we talked to the NCAA about was if I don’t graduate in December, then just suspend me after that. But I’m on track to graduate. That’s why this is so hard to take.”
Hayes, a 6-foot-7, 213-pounder, averaged 17.9 points last season, good for third in the Horizon League.
That’s the latest early blow for Oakland, which recently lost another big man, 6-11, 217-pound junior center Brad Brechting, to a broken toe in his left foot. He had surgery Monday and is expected to be out 12 weeks.
Oakland comes into the season with lofty expectations, after losing just one star player off last year’s team, while adding an impact transfer in former Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn. In the preseason coaches’ poll, the Golden Grizzlies received several votes, even more than Michigan.
It plays a tough nonconference schedule that includes a trip to Kansas after the Syracuse game, as well as a game agianst Michigan State at Little Caesars Arena in December.