Walker cleared to play Tuesday

Walker cleared to play Tuesday

Florida freshman Chris Walker has been cleared by the NCAA and will be eligible to play for the Gators on Tuesday. It will complete a 12-game suspension for the former five-star recruit, who will see the floor for the first time against Missouri.

"We appreciate everyone's participation in the process and are ready to move forward," Billy Donovan said. "We're glad there's a resolution for everyone involved, especially Chris."

The February 4 return against Missouri means Chris Walker will miss 12 games after enrolling at Florida. He wasn't able to enroll in the summer because of grades but took the necessary classes to enroll in December. Walker has been practicing with the team and sitting on the bench during games.

The NCAA report claims that Walker received preferential treatment from five people, including two agents. Walker is required to donate the $270 received from agents to a charity of his choice and serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.

"The NCAA membership has expressed continued concern about how third-party influence, improper agent involvement and the role of nonscholastic basketball impact student-athletes and prospects," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs. "Out of concern for student-athletes' wellbeing, our members have created rules that limit the involvement of these individuals. The 12 games Mr. Walker was required to sit out reflect the significance of these violations."

The Florida fan base has rallied around Walker during the process. Before Florida's game against Tennessee last weekend, the student section started multiple "Free Chris Walker" chants while the five-star freshman had a shy grin on his face.

"I appreciate all the support from UF, Coach Donovan and my teammates, and I'm looking forward to helping the team any way I can," Walker said.

Walker's insertion to the Florida lineup gives the Gators a force they don't have on the roster. As strong as center Patric Young's defense has been in the paint, he doesn't have the shot blocking ability that Walker brings to the table.

The 6-10 freshman led his team to a state championship as a senior in the last official game he has played in before Tuesday.

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