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Pepperdine Waits on Eligibility Case

November 21, 1996

Pepperdine is appealing a decision by the NCAA clearing house declaring freshman forward Kelvin Gibbs academically ineligible, basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar said Wednesday.

Gibbs, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Bellflower High, was contending for a starting spot but will lose a year of eligibility unless Pepperdine wins its appeal to the NCAA eligibility committee.

At issue is an English course Gibbs took at Cerritos College after his junior year of high school to make up for a class he missed in the ninth grade.

Romar said the course was approved by Bellflower High and the California Board of Education, but the NCAA clearing house rejected it because it was one semester, whereas the high school course is a full year.

"From my understanding [the Cerritos College course] was an accelerated course and it was OK," Romar said. "According to the California Board of Education, it met the requirement for a year's worth of English."

Romar said Gibbs never missed a day in four years of high school and maintained better than a 3.0 grade-point average.

"He's not a bad student," Romar said. "I don't think the intent of the rule was to penalize a kid who is squared away."

Romar did not know when Pepperdine's appeal would be heard.

"We're kind of at the mercy of the NCAA," he said.

The Waves open Friday night at Weber State with only nine scholarship players. Gibbs' absence leaves the team with only three players taller than 6-5, and none taller than 6-8.

"For him not to play makes us really thin up front," Romar said.

Also in limbo: As Cal State Northridge freshman Jeff Parris has waited on the sidelines for a month while the NCAA clearing house sifted through paperwork to determine his status, Matador basketball Coach Bobby Braswell's frustration has grown to anger.

Northridge's season begins Saturday at Nevada Las Vegas.

"This is the most frustrating thing about the clearing house," Braswell said. "They have no idea what these kids are going through. They are in a big building with a bunch of people shuffling paper and saying they don't have stuff they should have. . . . All they see is a number, they don't see Jeff Parris' face. . . .

"I would just like them to make a decision one way or the other so we can let the kid know if he can play or not."

Before Parris stopped practicing with the team because of the investigation, he was competing for a starting job.

Suittable: Cedric Suitt, aside from being a headline-writer's dream ("Suitt Wears Out Loyola"), figures to be a joy to coach at Pepperdine.

The 6-11 senior at Mays High in Atlanta averaged eight blocked shots a game last season, but his impressive numbers don't end there. Suitt scored 1,200 on the Scholastic Assessment Test and carries better than a 3.0 grade-point average, Romar said.

"He's a very squared-away guy," Romar said. "He's so coachable and so willing to listen and learn."

Suitt was the only player to commit to Pepperdine during the early signing period.

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