If the most prized recruit in Missouri's decorated 2010 class ever plays any college basketball, it apparently will not be in a Tigers uniform.
Tony Mitchell is reportedly in the process of enrolling at North Texas in the wake of the NCAA declaring him an academic non-qualifier on Jan. 5 and the Initial Eligibility Waiver Committee denying Missouri's appeal eight days later. The soonest Mitchell could be eligible to play at North Texas would be Dec. 2011.
"I'm very disappointed for Tony and his family," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said in a release issued by the school. "Tony is an outstanding young man, someone that has worked diligently to attend our university. He has shown great resolve during a difficult situation and we will continue to do whatever is allowable to help him as we move forward."
Mitchell's eligibility woes stem from a WFAA-TV report that launched a school district investigation into his high school grades.
The investigation focused on the legitimacy of make-up course work the 6-foot-8 forward did after transferring from Center of Life Academy in Miami to Pinkston High in Dallas for his senior year. Many of Mitchell's credits were not transferable because Center of Life's accreditation was not recognized by the Dallas district, but the Pinkston principal allowed him to take nine course make-up exams in a mere two days to get back on track.
"Membership has made it a priority that prospective student-athletes be academically prepared," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. "The standards are clear and serve as the foundation for the other NCAA academic requirements that must be met once a student-athlete enters college."
Although Missouri has a 17-3 record and a top-20 ranking without Mitchell, losing Mitchell is still a disappointment. The athletic 6-foot-8 forward, Rivals.com's No. 12 recruit in the Class of 2010, was an ideal fit for Missouri's up-tempo system and probably the most highly touted recruit Anderson has signed.
Whereas Big 12 rules prohibit Missouri from taking a non-qualifier, North Texas has no such restrictions in the Sun Belt. As a result, he can take advantage of lower in-state tuition and pay his own way there until he either opts to turn pro or becomes eligible to play as soon as next December.