Todd O'Brien loses waiver appeal

Updated: January 19, 2012, 4:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Todd O'Brien won't play college basketball this season for UAB.

O'Brien lost his last waiver appeal to play immediately at UAB after the NCAA sent an email to the Blazers late Wednesday night. O'Brien's last-ditch effort was snuffed.

O'Brien said he found out when he checked his email in Birmingham before going to bed late Wednesday.

"I don't know why this happened," O'Brien said Thursday afternoon. "I'm mad. It's so stupid. It's so petty."

O'Brien, a former Saint Joseph's center and current University of Alabama-Birmingham graduate student and practice player, wrote an open plea on SI.com on Dec. 19, stating his case for a scholarship release the Hawks refused to grant.

O'Brien detailed that he graduated from Saint Joseph's and wanted to use the NCAA's waiver rule to pursue a graduate degree at another institution that offered a program not available at Saint Joe's. O'Brien said he found a degree program in public administration at UAB, arrived in Birmingham in August and had been practicing with the team since October.

But the Hawks wouldn't release him, a condition for the waiver to be granted.

An NCAA spokesperson said after the appeal was initially denied, Saint Joseph's refusal to endorse O'Brien's waiver did have an effect. The waiver rule has been controversial but hasn't had any real denials of late.

If a player graduates from one school, he or she can pursue a waiver to play immediately so that they can be in grad school in a major that wasn't at the previous school.

One example was Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was kicked off the Ducks, graduated and was given clearance to play immediately at Ole Miss.

"I didn't get kicked off," O'Brien said. "I told (St. Joseph's athletic director) Don DiJulia that I wanted to go to grad school. He understood. He was real cool. He said we'll take care of all the paperwork."

O'Brien said he will meet with his attorney, Don Jackson of Montgomery, Ala., and decide if there is another course for legal action. In the interim, UAB coach Mike Davis said O'Brien will continue to practice and work out.

O'Brien said Davis would help him try to play overseas, too, if he can in some form.

Information from ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

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