Short of 2011 recruit Cody Zeller magically materializing a year early, junior college transfer Guy-Marc Michel was Indiana's best hope of immediately adding legitimate size to its current roster. Turns out, that's not going to happen.
Tuesday, amidst the ACC/Big Ten Challenge fun, Indiana announced that the NCAA ruled Michel ineligible for two reasons. The first: Michel played five games with a professional French club team in 2007-08. The second: According to the NCAA's findings, Michel had accepted a professional contract and enrolled in college in 2006, meaning he wouldn't have enough time to sit out for a year in order to regain his college eligibility. His college eligibility ends this season.
For that reason, the case is not quite as simple as the "did he get paid as a pro or not" distinction that eventually befell Kentucky center Enes Kanter. In fact, it's quite complicated. From the Associated Press:
He signed an agreement to play club basketball in France, but when he was called up from an amateur team to a top-level club that included professionals, Cromer said the NCAA ruled the agreement became a professional contract even though he was only paid normal and necessary expenses.
The bigger issue became his admission to a French university. Cromer said Michel's high school and college had the same name, which made it difficult for Indiana's compliance department to determine whether he had actually enrolled in college. Michel then played two seasons at Northern Idaho College, a junior college, before joining the Hoosiers this fall.
Division I athletes are allowed to compete for four seasons during a five-year span. So this would have been Michel's final college season.
If your head is starting to spin, you're not alone.
To help alleviate your confusion, check out Inside The Hall's very thorough report on the matter. Indiana fans are clearly bummed about the decision -- some are even parroting the same anti-NCAA card Kentucky fans embraced when the Kanter decision came down -- but you can hardly blame them. Michel will be able to stay on campus, utilize academic support, and work out in Indiana's facilities (and maybe even practice with the team), but he won't be able to suit up for the Hoosiers.
That means Indiana, for at least this season, will remain a team in desperate need of frontcourt players that aren't undersized or better utilized as small forwards. Tough break, but that's life with vaguely semi-professional foreign players, I guess.