BOISE — Arizona transfer Emmanuel Akot will not play in Boise State’s exhibition game Thursday night against West Coast Baptist after his initial waiver for immediate eligibility was recently denied by the NCAA.
Boise State filed an appeal earlier this week and remains hopeful Akot will eventually be allowed to play this season, but a decision likely won’t come before the 7 o’clock tip at ExtraMile Arena.
“A lot of these have been granted by the appeals process, so that’s what we’re keeping our fingers crossed for,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Akot is a former top-25 recruit that would play a significant role for the Broncos should he be ruled eligible. NCAA rules require Division I transfers to sit out a year, but Boise State believes he should be immediately eligible given the ongoing FBI investigation at Arizona that sent former assistant coach Book Richardson to federal prison.
Rice said he feels “really, really strongly” that Akot should be allowed to play this season.
“I know we’ve got a legitimate case and I know he’s got legitimate things we hung our hat on and it’s authentic and real and not just some language we made up to try and win a waiver,” Rice said. “We were honest and he was honest. He’s a great kid and he needs to play.”
The 6-foot-7 Akot will be the highest-ranked prep recruit ever to suit up for the Broncos when he plays either this year or next. The former five-star prospect was ranked as the No. 24 overall player in the 2017 recruiting class by 247Sports when he signed with Arizona over offers from Oregon, Louisville, Virginia Tech and several big-time programs.
According to Jeff Goodman of Stadium, a total of 54 waivers have been approved for this season while only eight have been denied. There are another 58 waiting on either the initial ruling or an appeal.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed and you hear coaches say to trust the process, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” Rice said. “Hopefully it ends the right way.”
Akot was not eligible to travel to Utah for Boise State’s closed scrimmage last week and he is not eligible to play in Thursday’s exhibition game. He won’t be allowed to play or travel to any game moving forward until his appeal is granted.
“He’s ready to go and we’re ready to put him in there,” Rice said. “We’re kind of in limbo. He’s practicing and doing everything, but (it makes it tough) when you are game planning and trying to figure out rotations.
“We turned the appeal around as quick as we could. We had to redo some stuff and try to make things right. We tried to make that as quick as we could because you’re trying to expedite everything because the clock is ticking. The first game is on (Nov. 5) and we’re at Oregon on the (Nov. 9).”
Oregon transfer Abu Kigab also is unable to play Thursday night due to NCAA rules. He’ll be eligible to play for the Broncos at the end of the first semester.
BRONCOS ‘EXCITED’ FOR EXHIBITION
Boise State has been waiting seven months to put last year’s frustrating 13-20 season behind them.
“We’re so excited,” senior Marcus Dickinson said. “I think after our last game last year we had guys in the gym that week, so we’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. It’s going to be exciting.”
Results were not made public from Boise State’s ‘secret’ scrimmage at Utah last week, but Rice said it was ‘very beneficial’ for the Broncos. He’s hoping for the same Thursday before the games count starting next Tuesday against Life Pacific.
“I love what I’ve seen from the guys that are available so far,” Rice said. “There’s a big benefit to this. It’s a dress rehearsal with the lights on and to see who can step up. The goal of this will be to get guys experience that maybe haven’t played a lot of games in ExtraMile Arena.”
That would include redshirt freshmen Riley Abercrombie and Max Rice and true freshman RayJ Dennis. Senior Robin Jorch, who missed last season due to injury, also will see his first game action in more than 18 months.
Tickets are $10, but those wearing Halloween costumes can purchase tickets for a discounted price of $7. The game will not be televised, but will be on the radio on 670 KBOI.