Source: Welsh suspended

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey has suspended guard Stefan Welsh from the Razorbacks basketball program, a source close to the team told The Morning News on Thursday. The source said Welsh's suspension came because of an academic issue.

The Arkansas athletic department wouldn't confirm Welsh's suspension, however. Robby Edwards, the university's media relations contact for basketball, did confirm that Welsh wasn't enrolled in the second session of summer school. Edwards also stated that Welsh was still a member of the team.

Pelphrey and Welsh, a 6-foot-3 senior-to-be, couldn't be reached for comment. When reached on her cell phone Thursday, Welsh's mother, Yolanda, said she wasn't aware of any suspension.

Welsh, who was recruited by former coach Stan Heath, averaged 11.4 points while making 24 starts and playing 29.5 minutes per game last season. Welsh's suspension marks his first disciplinary run-in as a Razorback. The Newport News, Va., native has played in all of Arkansas' 90 games since arriving in Fayetteville.

The suspension also signifies the end of a rough four-day stretch for the basketball program. The university released a statement Sunday to announce the departure of Jason Henry, who averaged 8.0 points last season as a freshman.

Arkansas' troubling NCAA Academic Progress Rate score (888) would take even more of a hit if Welsh didn't return to the Razorbacks. Henry and forwards Andre Clark and Brandon Moore left the basketball program after only one season. Forward Montrell McDonald left the team back in December, and Arkansas finds itself in danger of losing scholarships because of the APR score.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long spoke with The Morning News earlier in the day Thursday, before the revelation of Welsh's suspension. He said he wasn't worried about the number of players who have decided to play basketball elsewhere — even as two-thirds of last season's six-player recruiting class is no longer in Fayetteville.

"I would be concerned if the student-athletes were leaving for the wrong reasons. I think the student-athletes have left in the best interest of our program and those young people," Long said.

"So I'm not concerned about (Coach Pelphrey's) leadership of our basketball program. I think that we've made some decisions and some young people in our program made some decisions that will be in our and their best interests."

Alex Abrams contributed to this report.

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