Breaking news: NCAA reduces Morris suspension

The NCAA has reconsidered its season-long suspension of Randolph Morris, and has reduced the suspension to 14 games. The reconsideration was based upon consideration of new evidence, including a fax sent by Randolph Morris to Coach Tubby Smith on May 9 which further indicated his intent to retain college eligibility. Kentucky compliance director, Sandy Bell, has indicated Kentucky will not appeal this decision to the Reinstatement Committee. Morris will be eligible January 10, 2006.

A fax sent by SFX seemed to doom Randolph Morris, indicating his desire to stay in the NBA draft. A fax sent by Randolph Morris may have saved a portion of his season.

The NCAA released a statement which provided, in part, that the fax sent by Randolph Morris to Coach Tubby Smith on May 9 indicated his "clear intent" to retain his college eligibility. They also stated that the new information, which had not been included in Kentucky's original request for reinstatement, provided evidence of Morris' mindset during that time, as well as explained his failure to utilize University of Kentucky resources in the process.

UK Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, Sandy Bell, released a statement that indicated UK would accept the decision and provide no further appeals:

"The University of Kentucky is very appreciative of the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Staff's willingness to reconsider Randolph's case based on additional information. We are also pleased with the timely manner in which the reconsideration was made. The University of Kentucky considers this decision to be fair based upon the facts of the case. Therefore, we will not be appealing this decision to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Subcommittee."

Randolph Morris' suspension has been reduced to 50% of the season (14 games), which should make him eligible for the game against Vanderbilt on January 10.

For further information, read the entire NCAA Statement here. Also be sure and visit the KSR messageboards, which will be discussing the impact of this decision on Morris and the University of Kentucky.

"I'd like to begin by apologizing to Coach [Tubby] Smith and his coaching staff, my teammates, the University and also the fans. Many people at UK have stood behind me and have made my return possible. Coach Smith has always been very supportive of me as a player and as a person. I appreciate that he has allowed me to come back and be a member of this team. I am fortunate to have him as a coach. [Athletics Director] Mitch Barnhart and [Associate Athletics Director for Compliance] Sandy Bell kept me informed and watched out for my best interest over this reinstatement. I can't thank them enough for all of the hard work they have put into this. It was all in my intention to take the steps necessary to protect my eligibility. I appreciate the NCAA for taking that into consideration when reconsidering my case. In exploring my NBA options, I made poor choices. Those choices included accepting bad advice while putting distance between me and my coaches and teammates at UK. I take full responsibility for those actions. It wasn't obvious to me as I was going through this process, but looking back, I now see how my actions were disrespectful to Coach Smith and the University of Kentucky. Playing basketball at the University of Kentucky is a privilege that few athletes get to enjoy. I intend to make the most of this opportunity to be a part of the greatest basketball program in America."

On how his game has improved since last season…

"I think my game improved drastically over the summer and in the preseason. I lost some weight and I have gotten stronger. I look forward to getting back on the court."

On when he first heard of his reinstatement…

"Coach [Tubby Smith] told me this morning. We laughed a little and high-fived over it. It took a lot of pressure off of me and I am just happy to be playing basketball at the University of Kentucky."

On whether he sees being withheld for 14 games by the NCAA as a fair decision …

"I think it's very fair. I'm just happy that I have the opportunity to play this season."

On his future intentions…

"First and foremost, I want to graduate and get a degree from the University of Kentucky. I want to be able to help the team in any way that I can."

On what he learned from the reinstatement process…

"Where do I start? There are so many things. I think I basically learned to be wise about who you trust and associate with. It's also important that you don't burn bridges."

On the team accepting him back this summer…

"There was never any uneasiness. Everybody really welcomed me back with open arms."

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