If there is a fly in the Indiana Hoosiers' otherwise euphoric 2012-13 preseason ointment, it's the lingering eligibility questions surrounding incoming freshmen forwards Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin. Like (much more high-profile) UCLA newcomer Shabazz Muhammad, both players are still awaiting initial eligibility rulings from the NCAA and, like Muhammad, neither the NCAA nor Indiana has provided any hints one way or the other, because they can't.
Still, the season is rapidly approaching. After Indiana's exhibition win Thursday night, coach Tom Crean was asked about the situation. Per the usual, he didn't say much:
“What I can say about that is that we go through a lot in a program,” he said. “There’s situations that are always going to arise and every one of them has got a process to it. And we’re in the middle of that process. We just are. That’s the extent of it. They’re two great kids that are trying to get better every day and it’s not like it’s anything that we’re dealing with that just came up. It’s been a process for some time. And that’s really where we’re at with it.”
In fact, the best indicator of Jurkin's status was that he played last night. Because the NCAA counts all competitions, including exhibitions, inside its eligibility purview, Indiana would be taking a massive risk allowing Jurkin to play without some measure of certainty on his status. As bylaw guru John Infante writes, the likelihood is that the NCAA has cleared Jurkin, but the school itself is still checking some things out on its own.
There has been no such hint from Perea, but he's also been recovering from a left foot injury for much of the offseason, so it's tough to say whether he would have played in the scrimmage whether healthy or not. Naturally, Indiana fans are starting to ring the alarm. In case everyone's wondering what all the fuss is about, it's likely -- repeat, likely, since the NCAA hasn't confirmed any of it -- that it has something to do with the revelations uncovered last year by Outside the Lines reporter Mike Fish, who, as part of his multipart investigation into Indiana Elite and Bloomington, Ind.-based non-profit African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education (A-HOPE), reported on potential benefits Jurkin and especially Perea may have received during their time with the program:
After Drew Adams, the son of Mark Adams, was promoted to director of operations/video coordinator in April 2010, Crean signed or picked up commitments from eight players with ties to A-HOPE and/or the Indiana Elite program. According to summer team forms on file with the NCAA, the younger Adams previously coached three of the players with Indiana Elite, and his father acknowledges that two -- 2012 commits Perea and 7-foot-1-inch Peter Jurkin, part of a class ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN -- lived at his Bloomington, Ind., house last summer while he was their coach at Indiana Elite.
[...] A-HOPE paid for Perea's round-trips to Bogotá, Colombia, last summer and this past Christmas -- the latter not long after he verbally committed to the Hoosiers in October. Mark Adams also has provided Perea a cell phone and pays the bill, gave him a used iPod and bought a $400 laptop that Perea shares with another A-HOPE player. Such treatment potentially violates NCAA extra benefits bylaws and thus could impact Perea's initial NCAA eligibility at Indiana.
There's more on Perea here. Perea was also unwittingly at the center of an investigation into former Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield, who the NCAA began investigating last year for sending impermissible text messages, including an alleged message to Perea's high school coach that threatened to revoke the Colombian native's access to the United States if Perea chose to commit anywhere other than Baylor.
When you combine those potential vagaries with all the other things the NCAA looks at -- and the extended, prove-you-didn't-take-something process it uses to verify amateurism status -- perhaps it's no surprise the decisions haven't yet arrived, especially with regards to Perea. Along with Jurkin, Perea is the key to Indiana's frontcourt depth, to a lineup that doesn't rely solely on Cody Zeller for its interior acumen. At this point, you can forgive Indiana fans their anxiety.