SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis will miss the first four games of the regular season because he played in two exhibition contests three years ago before sitting out the rest of the year.
The 6-foot-8 senior averaged 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Irish last season. He has already graduated and last year worked on his MBA.
The problem dates to his sophomore year, when he played in two exhibition games at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. Abromaitis sat out the rest of that regular season to preserve an extra year of eligibility.
But the NCAA only allows freshmen to sit out exhibition games and retain a year of eligibility. So Abromaitis technically used a season of eligibility when he participated in the exhibition games.
"It has been so dragged out. Like coach said, this happened three years ago, so I have been waiting for it to come," Abromaitis said Tuesday. "It is kind of unfortunate but I am glad to be back for the fifth year and I will be ready to go when the season opens."
Coach Mike Brey blamed himself for misunderstanding the rule. He reported the mistake to the school's compliance office during the 2008-09 season.
"It was a misinterpretation totally on my part and so we knew that if he came back as a fifth year, we were going to deal with this," Brey said. "Tim knew this, his family knew this. I have apologized to them but we first had to find out if he was coming back for a fifth year and I knew we were going to have to pay the piper."
The school said Abromaitis' fifth year of eligibility was preserved for this season because of an NCAA waiver that considered the coaching staff's misunderstanding of the rule -- and on the condition that he sit out those four games.
Abromaitis will miss games against Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 12), Detroit (Nov. 14), Sam Houston State (Nov. 16) and Delaware State (Nov. 18).
His first game back would be against Missouri at the CBE Classic on Nov. 21.
Abromaitis said it never crossed his mind not to come back to play.
"I don't blame anyone for anything. It is something I would rather not deal with but that is the way it works sometimes," he said. "I'm going to enjoy this season as much as I can. Once these four games are up, I think it is an opportunity to get our team stronger and hopefully have a real good year after that."