Bloomington, Ind. – If Coach Kelvin Sampson's team is going to get out of the gates quickly this season, they'll have to do so without A.J. Ratliff.
Sampson confirmed the 6'3" shooting guard has been ruled academically ineligible for the first semester. His absence leaves Sampson with only four returning scholarship players from last year's squad – D.J. White, Mike White, Lance Stemler, Armon Bassett – to start the season.
Ratliff was the third-leading returning scorer from last year's team, averaging 9.3 points as a junior. His 57 3-pointers last season ranked him second to Rod Wilmont (77), and Ratliff shot 40.7 percent from behind the arc.
Rumors had persisted throughout the summer about the senior's academic situation, and those suspicions proved accurate. Sampson said Ratliff remains enrolled at IU and he'll continue to practice with the team beginning this afternoon at 4 p.m. when it has the first of 10 practices leading up to next weekend's trip to the Bahamas.
"Like I told him, this has a chance to be a great success story for him," Sampson said. "We're disappointed, but I'm not into re-living the past. I told A.J., if you graduate from Indiana University, then you have a chance to have a productive life. That will be our goal for him, and that will be his goal. I think he really does want to graduate from here."
Based on Sampson's eight-game time frame, Ratliff would able to return for the Dec. 8 game against Kentucky in Assembly Hall, assuming he had regained his eligibility during the upcoming semester. The final day of first semester classes is Dec. 8, although final exams don't conclude until Dec. 15.
"I've been lucky in my career – I've never had a kid academically ineligible," Sampson said.
SAMPSON: Ratliff Ineligible First Semester
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