<
>

Dez Wells wins surprising transfer appeal

Great news for the Maryland Terrapins: Dez Wells will be eligible this season after all.

That outcome always seemed like a very long shot, given Wells's sudden expulsion from Xavier this summer. Wells was denied an original waiver request, but Wednesday morning, the NCAA Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief overturned the decision. He won't have to wait the usual holdover transfer season; he'll be able to play in 2012-13.

When he left the school this summer, it raised more questions than answers. Wells was expelled from Xavier for allegations of sexual assault, as decided by the XU Conduct Board. But when an Ohio grand jury reviewed the details of the criminal charges against Wells, it threw them out. Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters laid into Xavier, calling XU's procedure "severely flawed" and asking the school to "revisit this situation." But Xavier stood its ground.

It was hard to believe any NCAA subcommittee would be willing to grant Wells a transfer waiver, given the murky nature of his departure from Xavier and the potential precedent it could set. But perhaps the NCAA saw the same thing Hamilton County authorities saw. Perhaps that was enough to make the case.

Without further details of Wells' appeal process, we don't know. What we do know is this is a huge, huge bit of news for Maryland and its coach, Mark Turgeon. The Terps lost 2012 leading scorer Terrell Stoglin to a violation of team rules this spring (Stoglin entered the draft rather than serve a one-year suspension), and it was relying on a group of younger, promising players to develop (see: Alex Len) in the hopes of building toward Turgeon's recruit-rich future classes. The 2013-14 season was going to be Maryland's "we're back" campaign. Instead, with Wells ready to play right away, Maryland could be a factor in the ACC as early as January.

I wouldn't go so far as to call the Terps a potential title contender -- I've seen a lot of that this afternoon, and I just can't get there yet -- but there's no question a developed, skilled athletic force like Wells changes their outlook this season. And no one could have seen that coming.