The last time we heard from Ken Mink, he had garnered national headlines two years ago by enrolling at Roane State Community College and becoming the world's oldest college basketball player.
Believe it or not, the 75-year-old Knoxville resident still isn't ready to hang up his high-tops for good.
After sitting out last season at Roane State as a result of a torn Achilles suffered the previous summer during the U.S. Senior Olympics, Mink is trying to extend his college basketball career another year. Tennessee Tech coach Mike Sutton invited Mink to join its program as a walk-on for the 2010-11 season, but Mink said a little-known NCAA rule may render that impossible.
Since Mink played the 1955-56 season at Lees Junior College before getting kicked off the team for allegedly soaping the coaches' office with shaving cream, he's now in violation of the NCAA's 5-4 rule, which requires students to complete their four years of athletic participation in a five-year window. Tennessee Tech is seeking a waiver as a result of Mink's unusual circumstances, but he's not overly optimistic.
"When you take a shot in the dark, find someone who's willing to do it and then you run into this kind of road block, it's pretty frustrating," Mink said by phone on Sunday. "If they did grant a waiver, it would be fantastic. I'd love to join the team. If I did get a few minutes on the court, it would be worth all the trouble."
A lifelong basketball junkie who has has experienced success at the senior level, Mink decided to pursue another year of college basketball because he enjoyed his time at Roane State so much. He didn't make a huge impact on the court two years ago, but he attended every practice and played in seven games, scoring in three of them, dishing out a handful of assists and having the time of his life in the process.
Since Mink couldn't afford tuition at a private college, he wrote a letter to the basketball coaches at four state schools within 100 miles of his Knoxville home floating the idea of walking onto their teams next year. Sutton, who had previously met Mink during a recruiting trip to Roane State, was the only one to respond.
"He told me he had great admiration for my love of the game and he would love to have me come there as a walk-on," Mink recalled. "I told him I never missed a practice at Roane State. I went through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but it was fun blood sweat and tears."
If the NCAA ignores the letter of its law and rules in Mink's favor, he'll likely rent an apartment near campus, soak in the experience of Division I basketball and hope to earn a few spare minutes in garbage time during blowouts. If not, Sutton has at least offered him the chance to deliver a motivational speech to the team next season before one of its games.
Mink has almost finished the book he's been writing about his experiences as a septuagenarian basketball player, but he thinks he'll delay the final edition a few more weeks until the Tennessee Tech situation is settled.
"This could make for an interesting chapter or two," he said, chuckling.
(Thanks, College Hoops Journal)