Texas A&M guard Derrick Roland always faced long odds in his petition for another year of eligibility, but there was always a shred of hope that the NCAA might show some uncharacteristic leniency.
When Roland filed an appeal for a medical hardship this spring, the NCAA had a chance to reward a kid who worked hard to come back from a gruesome broken right leg suffered against Washington on Dec. 22. Instead the NCAA denied the appeal on Friday, a sad way for the fan favorite to go out even if it was understandable since the 12 games Roland played as a senior were one more than the 30 percent of a season that traditionally is the threshold for a medical redshirt.
"I appreciate all that Coach (Mark) Turgeon and Texas A&M have done for me," Roland said in a statement. "Not only with this appeal, but for my career and for helping me to grow into the man I am today. I would have loved to come back for even half of a season, but it did not work out. At least I went out with my brothers -- (Bryan Davis and Donald Sloan). We gave it everything we had. I will be okay."
Texas A&M has been preparing to play without Roland next season, yet there's no denying his return would have been a huge boost. He averaged career highs of 10.5 points and 3.0 rebounds last season before the compound fracture in Seattle derailed his senior campaign.
The outpouring of support for Roland was one of the more memorable aspects of last season for a Texas A&M team that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament without him. Aggies fans flooded Roland's twitter page with get-well wishes, Washington players and coaches visited him in the hospital and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even offered to pay for a private plane to fly Roland's aunt to Seattle.
Roland has since recovered from the injury and even returned to the practice court with his Texas A&M teammates, but he had to know that by the letter of the law he had played his last game as an Aggie.
It's understandable NCAA officials didn't bend the rules for Roland, yet it sure would have been a nice story if they did.