UCF's Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6-inch basketball player from Senegal, has been academically cleared by the NCAA. Fall's academic history at Tavares' Liberty Christian Preparatory School had been n question.
Tacko Fall is free.
The NCAA cleared Fall, a 7-foot-6 freshman honor student whose academic history was in question, to compete for the UCF men's basketball team. The decision was rendered about 36 hours before the Knights' season opener at Davidson.
UCF coach Donnie Jones said he received word from the NCAA Friday morning about an hour before the team's final scheduled practice in Orlando before hitting the road. As a result, Fall was able to work out with teammates before joining them on the road for the first game of the year.
"We're just excited for him to play and appreciate his handling everything with great patience and just appreciate the NCAA looking at his case and understanding his story and how it's been handled. We're just thankful for them giving him the opportunity to play," Jones told the Orlando Sentinel.
Fall said in a statement released by UCF, "I am very thankful for the support from UCF, [President] Dr. [John] Hitt, my family and the media. I would also like to thank the NCAA for allowing me to continue to pursue my dream here at UCF as a student-athlete."
Fall, who hails from Senegal, is an engineering major who graduated from high school with a 3.6 grade-point average, but the NCAA had not previously vetted his high school and was unwilling to sign off the coursework he took at the school without further review.
Fall's high school, Liberty Christian, was placed under an extended evaluation period as the school sought NCAA certification. Fall is the first Division I athlete to come out of the small private Christian school in Tavares.
He was not cleared academically to compete for the upcoming season because of a delay in the certification process, which started last year. Fall could not participate in team scrimmages or travel with the team to the Bahamas for exhibition games during the summer.
UCF filed an academic waiver earlier this week to expedite the process and it was granted Friday.
Before the waiver was approved, the NCAA's review that effectively sidelined Fall generated national attention. Fans in Orlando along with ESPN basketball analysts began using the hashtag #FreeTacko on social media to protest the NCAA's inquiry into the academic background of a player who speaks four languages.