Report: North Carolina HC Brown, AD Cunningham release statements after Walker denied eligibility 

Mack Brown and North Carolina aren’t pleased that wide receiver Tez Walker was denied eligibility for the 2023 season again by the NCAA on Thursday. 

Brown and Tar Heels athletic director Bubba Cunningham released statements in regards to Walker’s denied eligibility. 

“We’re absolutely crushed to learn that Tez Walker’s eligibility has been denied for this season and he won’t be able to play,” Brown stated in a release. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been more disappointed in a person, a group of people, or an institution than I am with the NCAA right now. It’s clear that the NCAA is about process and it couldn’t care less about the young people it’s supposed to be supporting.” 

Here is Brown’s full statement. 

“Plain and simple, the NCAA has failed Tez and his family and I’ve lost all faith in its ability to lead and govern our sport,” Brown stated in a release. “They’ve messed so many things up as it relates to college football, and now their failures have negatively impacted the life of one of our own. Just imagine what it is like for Tez to be so excited to come home and have a chance to fulfill his childhood dream of playing for North Carolina in front of all of his family and friends, only to have it taken away despite doing nothing wrong. I can’t begin to understand how this has happened. The decision makers at the NCAA and on the committee should be ashamed of themselves for doing this to a young man. 

“As has been clearly documented, Tez should be eligible for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the mental health issues he’s faced during his time in college. And with this decision, the NCAA has placed an unnecessary burden on him. He’s had a rough go of it and this will surely only make it worse. How dare they ever speak about mental health and student-athlete welfare again. We’ve got complete rosters overhauled through the transfer portal, players playing in their 8th year of college, players playing at their fourth school, and the list goes on. Yet, Tez Walker, who has only played football at one school, isn’t eligible. It makes no sense and it never will. 

“Moving forward, our Carolina family is strong and we need to wrap our arms around Tez, lift him up, and make sure we continue to do all we can to support him. He’s continued to work, on the field and off, and remained an amazing member of our program throughout this ordeal. I know that will continue to happen because that’s the kind of person he is. Despite this setback, Tez’s future remains bright and we’ll continue to do everything we can to help him fulfill all of his dreams. 

“Shame on you, NCAA. SHAME ON YOU!” 

Brown’s strong statement comes nearly one month after Walker released a statement of his own Aug. 8 in response to the NCAA denying him eligibility for the first time.

Walker was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason all-conference team. After subsequent appeals, it appears he won’t play in 2023.

The NCAA released a response to North Carolina’s statements on Thursday, according to Thamel. The NCAA “doesn’t comment on specific cases,” and its full statement is below.

“The membership committee who reviews appeals understands every student-athlete wants every opportunity to compete with their teammates and the committee considers all information provided on behalf of the student-athlete and evaluates each request consistent with the rules set by members. 

“In January, at the direction of the Division I Board of Directors, the Division I Council – which includes voting members from all 32 conferences and voting student-athletes – unanimously supported the current guidelines for student-athletes who are transferring for a second time as undergraduate students and seeking eligibility for the 2023-24 academic year. 

“The NCAA takes student-athlete mental health and well-being seriously, as demonstrated by the DI Board vote in April that will now require all member schools to provide for the first time increased mental health resources and medical support for college athletes, among other benefits. For student-athletes who transfer for a second time and do not receive a waiver to compete immediately, those resources and support systems are still available as they acclimate to their new schools prior to competing the next year.” 

North Carolina’s athletic director echoed Brown’s sentiments in his statement, and Cunningham stated that “the NCAA made a maddening, frustrating and wrong decision — for Tez, for college football and for college athletics.” 

“Transfer waiver requirements were restricted after Tez established his residency at UNC,” Cunningham stated in a release. “Tez has only played football at one school and should be allowed to be immediately eligible. Seeing more than 50 student-athletes transfer to one school or watching a starting quarterback play for his fourth university in his sixth year doesn’t make sense to many. Arbitrarily prohibiting a student-athlete from competition — when that student-athlete has only played two seasons of football in the last five years at one school and wants to play closer to home for legitimate family and mental health reasons – – does not make sense. This decision undermines the fair treatment of student-athletes and further erodes the public’s confidence in our national governing body. Despite the NCAA’s failure, we will continue to support Tez Walker and his family.”