NCAA's decision leaves Aztecs hurting

The night of Feb. 12, 2007 changed the course of Brian Carlwell's college career.

He was the passenger in the vehicle his Illinois teammate was driving while under the influence when the car slammed into a tree. The driver, Jamar Smith, believed Carlwell was dead and drove the car to his home while bystanders called 911.

As it turned out, Carlwell had a severe concussion. He recovered and eventually resumed his career with San Diego State. Last season, he played on an Aztecs team that advanced to the Sweet 16 and tasted NCAA tournament success for the first time in the program's history.

Carlwell learned Thursday that his college career is now officially over because the NCAA denied his appeal for a sixth season. The 6-foot-11 center wasn't able to successfully argue that he should get one more season since he played only three games as a sophomore at Illinois. A knee injury ended that season as he continued to deal with the effects of the car accident.

"I was hurt when I found out I wasn't going to be able to come back," Carlwell said in a statement. "My time at San Diego State was amazing. I couldn't ask for a better three years of my life. I was a part of an amazing team. We made history at San Diego State and our legacy will forever live and that is something I am really proud of."

The NCAA's ruling has a significant impact on a San Diego State team hoping to keep the momentum and defend its Mountain West Conference crown. Carlwell, who averaged 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds as a senior, was to have taken on a greater role on the team if he had received an additional season.

Carlwell's departure leaves the Aztecs thin in the frontcourt for the coming season even though they added 6-foot-11 LSU transfer Garrett Green earlier this month. The team will have to wait until next year when transfers J.J. O'Brien and Dwayne Polee II become eligible.

Getting Carlwell back was never considered a sure thing for San Diego State. He had only made the decision to pursue the extra year after the season, and it was questionable whether the NCAA would allow more time after his five-year clock had expired.

Now San Diego State must move on, and hopefully for Carlwell, he can continue to find success after one night when things went horribly wrong.