NCAA rules French center ineligible

UC Irvine freshman center Maxime Chupin is ineligible after the NCAA's student-athlete reinstatement committee decided Wednesday to uphold an earlier ruling that he had received benefits above his actual and necessary expenses from a club team in France, according to Anteaters coach Russell Turner.

In a case that quietly dragged on while the NCAA made a high-profile decision to rule Turkish center Enes Kanter permanently ineligible to play for Kentucky, the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Chupin sat out all of this season and didn't have his appeal heard over the phone until Tuesday.

"I thought all along that by the reading of the rule that Max would be eligible," Turner said. "I’ve been surprised every step of the way.

"I’m disappointed for Max. I’m disappointed for us. I’m disappointed for college basketball. Here's a kid that doesn’t have the opportunity to play."

Turner said Chupin received about $1,300 per month from the Cholet Basketball Club as money intended to cover expenses, but the NCAA deemed he accepted an impermissible amount. Chupin was able to practice with the team after the NCAA's initial ruling that he was ineligible, but now his future at the school is uncertain as it is Turner's understanding that the ineligibility is permanent.

Turner in his first year had hoped Chupin would make an immediate impact in the Big West and announce the arrival of UC Irvine as a player for international recruits with the signing last August. But with Chupin ruled ineligible, the Anteaters went through a 13-19 season and are hurting inside after top rebounder Eric Wise recently told the staff of his intentions to transfer. Turner was also left wondering if the NCAA's changes in eligibility rules would actually make it easier to recruit international players.

"I think many assumed it would be easier, that more guys would be eligible," Turner said. "I don't think it is.

"We made a compelling case. In fact, the NCAA told us that on a number of different occasions. To our disappointment, they ruled the same way."