Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

NCAA denies immediate eligibility for WVU men’s hoops guard RaeQuan Battle

MORGANTOWN — For the second time in as many years, the NCAA has denied immediate eligibility to a WVU men’s basketball player seeking a waiver.

The school announced Monday that guard RaeQuan Battle’s waiver request for immediate eligibility was denied.

WVU said in a released statement that it plans to appeal that decision.

WVU went through the same process last season with guard Jose Perez, who was also denied a waiver and then had his appeal denied also.

Perez was forced to sit out last season and then was removed from the roster before the start of this season for a violation of team rules.

The appeal will be handled by the NCAA Committee for Legislative Relief, whose decision will be final in this situation. If Battle is denied a second time, he would have to sit out this season, but would be eligible to play next season.

Going by last season’s timeline with Perez, a final decision on Battle’s eligibility could come in about three weeks.

At issue with Battle’s eligibility is the 6-foot-5 guard from Tulalip, Wash. has already played at two other schools and used his one-time free transfer to go from Washington to Montana State in 2021.

Since last year, the NCAA and the Division I Council have come up with new guidelines for athletes seeking a second transfer before earning a college degree.

The guidelines to earn a waiver were unanimously passed by the council, which were:

** A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student’s support system will be considered).
** Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athlete’s immediate departure from the previous school (e.g., physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athlete’s athletics participation.

In past interviews, WVU interim head coach Josh Eilert had hinted the school was going after the mental-health angle in trying to get Battle’s waiver.

“I really worry about that for RaeQuan, because he really does need basketball in his life,” Eilert said. “I’ve touched on his story a little bit and I don’t want to get into it. Basketball is something he needs on a day-to-day basis. He needs that structure and that accountability each and every day to keep his head on straight.”

Battle has his best college season in 2022-23, averaging 17.7 points per game. Former WVU head coach Bob Huggins signed Battle out of the transfer portal last April.

Battle will continue to be permitted to practice and work out with his teammates during the appeal process.

The NCAA’s denial of Battle’s waiver is a disappointment for Eilert, who earlier said he expected the NCAA to approve it.

“I really feel like it should be a rubber stamp if you know his file and what he’s went through and why he chose West Virginia,” Eilert said. “There’s a lot of dynamics and a lot of variables to this whole story and I think the NCAA is going to do right by him at the end of the day and he’s going to be playing for us. That’s my gut feeling.”

If Battle’s appeal is denied, the Mountaineers will be down to 10 available scholarship players for the season.