7:52 p.m. CT: Updated with Kerdiles' return date and UW's statement
The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team received positive news Friday afternoon, as it was informed that the NCAA's one-year suspension of Nic Kerdiles has been reduced to 30 percent of the season.
The Badgers have a 36-game schedule, and 30 percent consists of 10 regular-season games. Kerdiles sat out two games against Northern Michigan last weekend and will be eligible to play beginning Nov. 30 at Denver.
Five members of the NCAA reinstatement committee listened to UW's appeal on behalf of the blue-chip winger on Thursday. The appeal started at 1:30 p.m. CT, and stretched into the late afternoon.
Senior Associate AD Walter Dickey and Compliance Director Katie Smith led Wisconsin's contingent at the hearing.
"While we recognize the significant nature of a reduction in penalty from a full season withholding to 30 percent, we are dismayed that any penalty whatsoever was imposed on Nic Kerdiles in this matter," Dickey said in a statement. "We remain confident that the facts demonstrate Nic had no culpability. The facts serve as evidence that he has the kind of character we believed he had when he was first recruited. Throughout this ordeal, Nic has demonstrated nothing but poise and integrity consistent with the outstanding student-athlete we know he is.
"Nic is currently exploring his options which we have encouraged him to do. Our hope is that he remains a Badger."
The NCAA's decision came in the mid-afternoon on Friday. Kerdiles met with his family via conference call to discuss his options. Kerdiles' WHL rights are owned by the Kelowna Rockets, where he could go and play immediately.
Kerdiles, who hails from Irvine, Calif., was a second-round draft pick of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks (#36 overall) this past June. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound forward was considered by some to be the top recruit in the country for the upcoming season.
The freshman winger was set to make an immediate impact for the Badgers this season. Before the news of his suspension broke, Kerdiles was playing on Wisconsin's top line with leading returning scorer Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes.
News first broke that Kerdiles was involved in an NCAA investigation on October 6th when he was mysteriously absent from the lineup during Wisconsin's exhibition game vs the U.S. Under-18 team.
Shortly after the initial story broke, sources confirmed to Bucky's 5th Quarter that the investigation started after photos from various social media platforms surfaced involving Kerdiles and advisors from Pulver Sports.
Pulver Sports is a full-scale sports agency that specializes in the representation of hockey players. The agency is run by Ian Pulver, and some of its clients include Tyler Seguin, Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk.
One photo showed Kerdiles out to dinner at the NHL Draft combine with agents from Pulver Sports, as well as some of their clients. A second photo that was tweeted out from Pulver's Twitter account showed Kerdiles holding a product from BioSteel sports. That could considered product promotion, which is against NCAA rules.
However, Chris Peters from the United States of Hockey blog shed some more light on the story on Thursday, as his sources believe that Kerdiles may have unintentionally received an improper benefit at the NHL Draft.
"Apparently, Kerdiles stayed in a hotel room the night of the NHL Entry Draft that was part of a block paid for by a credit card owned by family advisor and certified NHL player agent Ian Pulver. According to the source, though the Kerdiles family eventually repaid Pulver, apparently enough time had lapsed prior to repayment leading the NCAA to view this as a loan from an agent and therefore an improper benefit."
Sources told Bucky's 5th Quarter on Thursday night that while Pulver did at first pay for the hotels, there were extenuating circumstances that led to that. We were also told that the Kerdiles family paid for the hotels immediately after the fact.
The transgressions in question seem to be incredibly miniscule compared to the punishment of a one-year suspension that was initially levied by the NCAA.
Ten games is still a large chunk of the season, but everyone involved is certainly happy that they can finally move on.
After a weekend off, the Badgers will be back in action next weekend when they travel to Duluth to take on the Bulldogs.
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