CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bearcats fourth-year center Aziz Bandaogo has been granted a waiver for immediate eligibility by the NCAA, the university announced on Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Bandaogo transferred to Cincinnati in May from Utah Valley and applied for a mental health waiver for immediate eligibility as a two-time transfer. His initial request was denied in October and then again on appeal earlier this month.
- Despite the denial on appeal, Bandaogo’s waiver was subsequently approved by the NCAA on Monday, similar to the situation involving North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker. The waiver was granted on account of “new information” according to program sources familiar with the decision, which echoed the same verbiage used in Walker’s approval.
- The 7-foot native of Senegal won WAC Defensive Player of the Year at Utah Valley in 2022-23, averaging 11.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots. Bandaogo spent his first two seasons at Akron.
- The Bearcats opened the 2023-24 season 4-0. Bandaogo is expected to make his Cincinnati debut Wednesday at home against Georgia Tech.
What they’re saying
“The day I have long dreamt of has finally come. I am grateful that the NCAA has reconsidered my case and granted my immediate eligibility,” Bandaogo said in a statement. “I am most thankful for my teammates, our coaching staff, administration and fans for continuously supporting me. Ohio is my American home away from home. I cannot wait to make my Cincinnati debut and give this program everything I have. Go Bearcats!”
Bearcats head coach Wes Miller said he is “thrilled” with the news.
“This process has been incredibly tough on Aziz and our whole team and I’m glad he can now focus on being the best student-athlete he can be for the Bearcats,” Miller said in a statement. “We appreciate the NCAA for reconsidering his case, and ultimately coming to this decision. I want to thank John Cunningham, President Pinto and the many people at the University of Cincinnati who supported Aziz during this process.”
Cincinnati and Bandaogo were clearly up for a fight against the NCAA, with Bandaogo retaining legal representation, garnering political support, and Miller speaking out against the decision to deny his eligibility on multiple occasions, including Big 12 media day. The NCAA ultimately reversed its previous denials before any formal litigation was filed.
Bandaogo hired the same legal firms who represented Walker’s case, and Bandaogo also received support from Ohio attorney general Dave Yost.
Jamille Reynolds, another two-time transfer who joined Cincinnati from Temple this offseason, has also applied for a mental health waiver for immediate eligibility. He had his initial request denied in October as well, but Miller said on Sunday that a decision on his appeal had not yet been made.
“Unfortunately, we still have another young man who is waiting to hear back from the NCAA on his waiver for immediate eligibility,” Miller continued in his statement on Monday. “Our hope is the NCAA will do the right thing in Jamille Reynolds’ case, as well.”
(Photo: Candice Ward / USA Today)