Wisconsin's worst fear came true on Monday, as head coach Mike Eaves announced blue-chip left wing Nic Kerdiles has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for one season. Eaves noted that Wisconsin is appealing the decision.
As Bucky's 5th Quarter and Chris Peters from the United States of Hockey blog reported on Sunday, this goes back to photos that were posted on various social media accounts of potential amateurism violations.
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 Sunday the situation started because a photo surfaced of Kerdiles out to dinner at the NHL Draft combine with representatives from Pulver Sports.
That photo has been obtained by Bucky's 5th Quarter through the facebook account of Alyonka Larionova. Alyonka is the daughter of former NHLer, and current Pulver Sports agent Igor Larionov.
The photo shows Kerdiles at a restaurant with (left to right), agent Ian Pulver, Pulver client and Boston Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, agent John Walters, Pulver client and Montreal Canadiens draft pick Alex Galchenyuk, Kerdiles, and agent Igor Larionov.
As we said in our initial report, 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.
Even if Kerdiles did get a free meal, a one-year suspension is like sending someone to the gas chamber for jaywalking. There has to be more to do with this than just a picture of a kid out to dinner.
When Bucky's 5th Quarter started to do some digging, it took us less than 10 minutes to find another possible NCAA violation. Posted directly from the Twitter account of agent Ian Pulver, there is a picture of Kerdiles, Yakupov and Galchenyuk at the NHL scouting combine in Toronto.
In the picture (posted above), you can see the three players holding up and promoting supplements from BioSteel Sports.
BioSteel claims to be, "The healthiest and safest system of High Performance Sports Drinks and Nutritional Protein Shakes in sports."
The tweet from the agent reads, "@pulversports: @BioSteelSports at NHL Combine @NicKerdiles @AGally94 and the Yak. @Igor_Larionov @dtolensky"
@pulversports (Ian Pulver), @Igor_Larionov (Igor Larionov) and @dtolensky (Daniel Tolensky) are owners/employees of Pulver Sports. @AGally94 (Alex Galchenyuk) and Yak (Nail Yakupov) are two Pulver clients, who went No. 3 and No. 1 in the NHL Draft to Montreal and Edmonton, respectively.
The picture has been deleted from Pulver's twitter account since the time of this initial report.
NCAA players are not allowed to receive free gifts, and they are certainly not allowed to have agents tweet pictures of them promoting products. This appears to be a violation of NCAA rules.
However, John Infante, an NCAA Expert for Athleticscholarships.net posted on his website that the photo alone isn't enough to trigger a suspension of this length.
"Perhaps if Kerdiles had received compensation for promoting BioSteel, a one-year suspension might be in order. But so far, all that we know was that he was involved with a photo that, normally, would not carry a suspension."
Infante also added on twitter that a free dinner from an agent would likely carry a suspension of 3-4 games.
That leads me to believe we clearly don't have all of the facts of this case yet.
Andy Baggot, who covers the Wisconsin men's hockey program for the Wisconsin State Journal wrote Monday that a tweet sent by Kerdiles referencing an agent is in question.
Multiple sources in the NHL and college hockey indicate the ruling stems from a post Kerdiles made to his Twitter account in the midst of being chosen by Anaheim in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft in June.
The account has since been shut down, but the NCAA apparently took notice of a reference to an agent, which is against NCAA rules if that representative promotes the player to a professional team or if the player receives impermissible benefits such as money, meals or merchandise from the agent.
At this point, it remains to be seen how realistic of a chance there is that Kerdiles' suspension will be thrown out or reduced. Wisconsin opens its regular season with a series this weekend in Green Bay vs Northern Michigan.
Andrew Weiss from Future Considerations tweeted that if a decision by the NCAA isn't reached soon, the freshman could give up his NCAA eligibility all together and leave for the Western Hockey League.
I’m hearing Thursday is deadline day for Kerdiles’ camp. If appeal is not overturned by then he’ll be Kelowna bound.— Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC) October 8, 2012
The Kelowna Rockets currently own Kerdiles' WHL rights. Weiss also tweeted that the Muskegon Lumberjacks picked up Kerdiles' USHL rights on Monday, but it's expected that Kerdiles would go to Kelowna and not the USHL.
More to come as information becomes available.
Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!
For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter (@AndyJohnsonB5Q)
You can also reach Andy via twitter (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)