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New Mexico Freshman Prevails in Legal Fight With NCAA

November 04, 1995|From Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — A judge ruled Friday against the NCAA and in favor of New Mexico recruit Kenny Thomas, granting a preliminary injunction against the NCAA's denial of eligibility for the freshman.

The decision, greeted with applause and cheers, came after 2 1/2 days of testimony by officials of the school and the NCAA and by Thomas.

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound power forward, who looked stunned when the decision was announced, immediately went to practice.

"I'm happy that this is over with and I get to play. I just want to go to practice this afternoon," Thomas said at the courthouse.

State District Judge Daniel Schneider found that Thomas--one of the nation's top 15 freshman basketball prospects--would suffer irreparable harm by not playing this season.

The NCAA had said Thomas couldn't play because a science course he took as a ninth-grader at Austin High School in El Paso, Tex, in 1991 did not qualify as one of the 13 core curriculum courses required by the NCAA for eligibility. Thomas lost two NCAA appeals before going to court.

Schneider said his ruling was partly based on his belief that Thomas would win his lawsuit in a trial.

Former New Mexico attorney general Paul Bardacke, who represented the NCAA, said he wasn't sure what options the NCAA would pursue, if any.

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