Vols Draw A Bye, Bid Goodbye to Higgins

Some goodbyes are better than others, as the Tennessee Volunteers learned today when they got an unexpected bye in the SEC Tournament while saying an unexpected goodbye to their most experienced player and best defender.

Tennessee shooting guard Jon Higgins has played his last game for the Volunteers.

According to published reports from the University and national news services, Higgins has been declared academically ineligible for post season play which includes the upcoming SEC Tournament. His appeal of that ruling was denied by the SEC's executive committee this morning.

A four-year starter who split his time between point and shooting guard, Higgins, 6-3, out of Shaker Heights, Ohio, ranks fourth among Tennessee's all-time 3-point shooters with 209 field goals in 521 attempts (39.7 percent). He is third in games started with 122, eighth in assists (352) and ninth in steals (130).

Considered the team's defensive stopper, Higgins was averaging 8.9 points per game as a senior and knocked down a half-court shot to lift the Vols to a victory over Georgia Tech.

Higgins offered the following statement released by UT in regard to his status.

"I am disappointed that my season and career had to end this way. My academic standing has never been in question and there have never been any academic issues in my career. In my drive to finish my degree in four years, it is obvious now I took on too much at one time. Taking four upper level math classes during the fall was too much to handle in one semester. I still plan on graduating in the near future.

"I apologize to my family and teammates and everyone who has supported me in the last four years. Even though I am not going to be able to play, I still have confidence in my teammates to get it done. This takes nothing away from the good season that we have had."

In a related matter, Tennessee received a bye for the SEC Tournament today after the announcement that Georgia has withdrawn from the tourney due to questions surrounding an ongoing investigation into a former player's allegations that led to the suspension of head coach Jim Harrick.

The result was that Tennessee moves up to No. 3 in the East Division drawing a first round bye. Instead of playing Ole Miss on Thursday, the Vols will now faced Auburn on Friday at 9:45 p.m. (EST) in a quarterfinal contest.

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