Sophomore eligible to return Jan. 6 vs. Michigan State

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nikola Kecman (NICK-oh-la KETZ-man), a sophomore on the Ohio State men’s basketball team, will sit out the first 12 games of the 2008-09 season, Miechelle Willis, senior associate athletics director, announced Monday. The violation, which deals with amateur certification, was determined jointly by the NCAA Eligibility Center and the Ohio State Athletics Department.

Doug Archie, associate athletics director for compliance, worked with the NCAA during the process.

“Nikola participated on a team (Vizura) that was in the transition of moving from an amateur team to a professional team,” Archie said. “Under NCAA rules, any team that provides players with more than actual and necessary expenses is tantamount to a professional team. After consultation with the NCAA Eligibility Center staff, the athletics department concluded that members of the foreign team may have received more than actual and necessary expenses during the transition year.”

Kecman was not compensated for playing but was penalized for participating with others considered professional by NCAA standards, Archie said.

Ohio State worked on the amateurism decision with the eligibility center staff and student-athlete reinstatement staff of the NCAA.

Kecman will be eligible to play for the first time at Michigan State Jan. 6, 2009. He will not travel with the team but will be allowed to practice while sitting out. 

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Kecman, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, played his freshman season at Eastern Arizona College in 2007-08.

Thad Matta, head coach of the Buckeyes, said Kecman is disappointed but he and the team will adjust. The team looks forward to Kecman’s return to competition in January.

“This is a temporary setback for Nikola and our team,” Matta said. “We do not feel Nikola has done anything wrong but respect and understand the NCAA rules that apply to this situation. Nikola has worked extremely hard and has made significant contributions to our program in his short time in Columbus. We look forward to his return.”