The smile of Creighton compliance director Brandy Menaugh delivered good news to Creighton head coach Greg McDermott Tuesday morning.
A voicemail from the NCAA indicating the approval of Grant Gibbs' appeal for a sixth year of eligibility was left on Menaugh's office phone early Tuesday.
"She came to my office this morning and I was in a meeting with someone else. She knocked on the door and had a pretty big smile on her face. She was excited, she put a lot of effort into this," said McDermott.
Menaugh's work convinced the NCAA that Gibbs was previously robbed of two years of eligibility due to injury. A shoulder injury kept Gibbs on the bench in his first season at Gonzaga. Gibbs played in 24 games the following season, including one start, but hurt his knee sometime in the second half of the season. Frustrated with his luck, Gibbs decided to leave Gonzaga.
The transfer year is where Gibbs' situation wades into unprecedented waters. Once the Marion, Iowa native arrived in Omaha and rehabilitation efforts on the knee weren't producing the desired results, surgery became the best option. Creighton's argument hinged on the notion that had Gibbs stayed in Spokane, the knee issues would have forced him to sit out the 2010-11 season anyways.
"Initially when we decided to send it in, I thought it was a real long shot, but as time kind of dragged on, they told me that's probably a good thing," said Gibbs. "I kind of had a feeling maybe we were going to be able to give it a go, so a little surprised still, but I thought there was a shot."
His coach didn't hold out much hope for Gibbs return, and it may cost him. With Gibbs returning, the Bluejays have nine scholarship players from last season and five newcomers, which puts them one scholarship over the allowed 13. The plan, as of now, is for Coach Mac to pay Doug's tuition for his last year.
"It's still kind of hard for me to believe because I don't know that I prepared myself for this possibility," said McDermott Tuesday afternoon.
Another assist came by way of Gonzaga coach Mark Few. As part of the appeal process, the NCAA needed a statement from the Bulldogs. Few and company cooperated throughout the process although they had nothing to gain.
"They had to submit a statement of the situation with Grant and the injury problems that he had while he was at Gonzaga. Obviously, they supported Grant's effort in trying to get a sixth year," said the Creighton coach. "He (Few) was the first phone call I made once it was granted, because we are very appreciative of what they did, the fact that they still had concern for a student-athlete that was no longer on their team."
With his status previously in limbo, the Bluejays' lead assist man has spent the summer working basketball camps while crashing on teammates' couches and doing his best to jump in workouts. Had his waiver been rejected, Gibbs stated he would likely have given a professional career in Europe a go, but is happy to settle for trips to the East Coast while playing in his third conference, the BIG EAST.
"Obviously all the aspects of being able to come back, but that was a huge one, being able to play in these new venues and against this caliber of competition. I'm extremely excited for that part of it, as everybody else is," said the eldest Bluejay.
Among the excited was the recipient many Gibbs' assists, Doug McDermott. Although he was in Istanbul waiting to fly to Russia for the World University Games, the two friends were able to exchange jokes via text message. The Creighton graduate joked that McDermott may even may be relegated to bag-carrying duties as a walk on,but both parties were excited to spend their final collegiate seasons playing together.
"Getting the band back together!" Gibbs joked.
The return of the offensive maestros is expected smooth the Bluejays' transition into the BIG EAST. College basketball analysts across America debated whether or not Tuesday's news made Creighton a potential favorite in the league. With the season still a ways off, Coach McDermott wasn't concerned too much in speaking about expectations, but expressed his satisfaction with the NCAA ruling in favor of Gibbs.
"It's just good to see the NCAA rule in favor or a student-athlete," said Coach McDermott. "We tend to hear the stories when they don't, those make a lot of nation attention. This is kind of a feel good story where they did right by a student-athlete."
Check out Gibbs' reaction via GoCreighton.com
Gibbs Granted Sixth Season
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