Wisconsin took care of business on Saturday night in its exhibition opener, beating the United States under-18 team, 5-0, at the Kohl Center. The real story however, was the eligibility of blue-chip freshman winger Nic Kerdiles.
The Irvine, Calif., native didn't suit up for the Badgers on Saturday, missing the game while the NCAA sorts out the status of his eligibility.
Badger head coach Mike Eaves didn't have much to share after the game.
"[The NCAA has] been investigating this for a while," Eaves said. It’s not in my hands right now. That’s between the NCAA and their investigation."
Sources told Bucky's 5th Quarter Saturday night that this has been an ongoing situation, and that the Badgers have been aware of it for months.
Kerdiles was one of the top recruits in the country, and was projected to play on the Badgers' top line to start the season with juniors Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes.
Chris Peters from the United States of Hockey blog reported that the NCAA investigation stems from potential violations discovered through social media.
According to Peters, photos that were posted online may have triggered scrutiny around a potential amateurism violation.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Kerdiles' relationship with advisors from Pulver Sports has been called into question.
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.
Sources told Bucky's 5th Quarter on Sunday the situation started because a photo surfaced on Twitter of Kerdiles out to dinner at the NHL Draft with representatives from Pulver Sports.
Kerdiles deleted his Twitter account in mid-August, and sources have said this NCAA situation is the reason he chose to delete his account.
It's certainly not an NCAA violation to be at the dinner, but the student-athlete would be required to pay for his own meal.
It's also not against the rules for a student-athlete to associate with an advisor, as long as the player doesn't receive any special benefits. The student-athlete is also required to compensate the advisor for any services provided.
Bucky's 5th Quarter obtained a hockey-specific memo sent out by former College Hockey, Inc. director Paul Kelly last year while he was still in charge. The memo specifically addresses NCAA rules in regards to agents and advisors:
- Young athletes, who I will refer to as prospective student-athletes (PSAs), are not permitted to have agents who market their hockey skills or negotiate with professional teams on their behalf. The definition of a professional team includes major junior teams (NCAA bylaw 22.214.171.124.4).
- PSAs may not have written or oral agreements with agents. This includes agreements for future representation.
- Family members of PSAs are not permitted to have written or oral agreements with agents.
- PSAs are not permitted to accept benefits from agents, such as money, meals, clothing, hockey equipment, or other things of value.
- PSAs and their families are permitted to have advisors to offer guidance and advice, so long as that advisor does not market his or her client's hockey skills or negotiate with professional teams on behalf of the client.
- If a PSA or his family uses the services of an advisor, he must compensate that advisor in an amount equal to the services provided. A modest annual fee is recommended.
The UW freshman posted a dejected message on his Facebook account on Sunday Saturday.
"This is not even close to what i envisioned for me... God apparently always has a plan for everyone, but i really don't know where he is taking me."
Unfortunately, if his eligibility isn't rectified, I would expect Kerdiles to leave Wisconsin for the Western Hockey League. His rights are currently owned by the Kelowna Rockets.
Kerdiles is a second-round NHL draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks. While the Ducks would certainly be content with him staying at Wisconsin if he was playing, there's no way they'll let an investment like Kerdiles waste an entire season simply going to school.
Wisconsin opens the regular season on Friday by traveling to Green Bay to play Northern Michigan at the Resch Center. At this point, it's up in the air whether the Badgers will have their blue-chip freshman in the lineup.
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