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Friday, October 14, 2005
Air Force center Welch out after second knee surgery

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force center Nick Welch will miss the entire basketball season after his second operation in less than three months.

Welch, a senior was named to this year's preseason all-Mountain West Conference team, was the Falcons' second highest scorer, averaging 12 points per game, and rebounder, with 3.6 per game, in 30 starts last season, helping the team to its second-best record in school history at 18-12.

Welch, a 2004 honorable mention All-America selection, missed the first game of the 2003-04 season after arthroscopic knee surgery, and he had similar procedures on the same knee in each of the last two off-seasons. In July, he has surgery for a broken bone in his left foot, and had surgery in early September to repair a damaged tendon in his left ankle.

He is expected to fully recover, but has missed so much of his academic and military obligations this semester because of rehabilitation that officials decided to grant him a medical turnback and a ninth semester at the academy to finish his senior year. He is expected to graduate with the class of 2007.

A medical turnback is the rough equivalent of a redshirt in civilian schools.

Welch will be eligible to play for the Falcons in the 2006-07 season, but that decision will be up to him and his doctors, spokesman Troy Garnhart said.