Kevin Olekaibe gets NCAA clearance

Updated: November 4, 2013, 5:56 PM ET
By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com

Kevin Olekaibe was granted a hardship waiver Monday and will be able to play immediately for his hometown UNLV Rebels, sources said.

Olekaibe, a senior guard who led Fresno State in scoring two seasons ago, applied for a hardship waiver with his father gravely ill. He has been awaiting word since September as his father remains in hospice unable to speak or move his lower body.

[+] EnlargeKevin Olekaibe
Rick Dodd/Icon SMIKevin Olekaibe, Fresno State's leading scorer two seasons ago, is seeking to play for UNLV to be near his gravely ill father.

The NCAA normally requires players who transfer to other Division I schools to sit out one season.

"It's been really tough on him," said Olekaibe's 35-year-old brother, Ike Olekaibe, prior to the decision.

The 6-foot-2 Olekaibe averaged 17.8 points per game two seasons ago at Fresno State but saw his production drop to a career-low 8.3 points last season.

While nearly every other basketball player has been rendered a decision by the NCAA on waiver applications, with the majority being cleared, Olekaibe's status had remained unclear just days before the team's season opener Friday against Portland State.  

Fresno State signed off on the move, and Olekaibe -- who grew up in Las Vegas and starred at Cimarron-Memorial High -- is walking on at UNLV.

His father, Benson, suffered a stroke in 2008 while on business in Nigeria. After improving slightly, Ike Olekaibe said his father began to experience dementia. He then suffered another, more debilitating stroke in 2009 and has been in hospice since.

"My dad's paralyzed," Ike Olekaibe told ESPN.com. "He can't speak at all. He's in a vegetative state. We have to shave him. Who knows how much longer he's got?"

Olekaibe received a scholarship based on his high grade point average coming out of high school, and Ike and his other brother, John, will pay the remainder of the tuition, totaling approximately $3,000.

UNLV submitted the paperwork in September to the NCAA, requesting the waiver so Olekaibe could be closer to home and help his mother, Esther, and be able to see his father on a consistent basis.

The NCAA has recently cleared several players due to family illnesses. Former Tennessee guard Trae Golden was cleared at Georgia Tech to be closer to his father. Ex-Iowa State player Kerwin Okoro was cleared to play this season at Rutgers after losing both his brother and father. Former Denver guard Royce O'Neale is allowed to play this season at Baylor to be closer to his sick grandfather, and former Drake forward Joey King was cleared at Minnesota due to the health of his brother.

The NCAA has also recently cleared former Houston guard Joseph Young at Oregon after his father, a former Cougars assistant, was reassigned. Ex-UCLA big man Josh Smith is able to play this season at Georgetown and will get a semester back after playing six games a year ago for the Bruins.


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