NCAA denies Ahmad Starks' waiver

The NCAA has denied Ahmad Starks' hardship waiver request to play this season at Illinois.

Starks, an Illinois native who played the previous three seasons at Oregon State, will have to sit out the upcoming season.

"Following a lengthy process, we have received final word from the NCAA on Ahmad's status. We are all disappointed with the decision to deny the waiver and especially feel bad for Ahmad and his family," Illinois head coach John Groce said in a statement. "Ahmad had a compelling case, returning to his home state to be closer to an ailing grandmother who played an instrumental role in raising him. However, we now have to move forward. Ahmad will focus on preparing our team in practice while also making individual improvement, fueled by the goal of returning to the court in 2014-15."

Numerous players over the last few years have received waivers after requests to return closer to home to be near ailing family members. Starks applied for a hardship waiver in order to be close to his grandmother, who has been sick.

Starks is being denied because his home is more than 100 miles from Champaign, Ill.

The 5-foot-9 Starks averaged 10.4 points per game last season for Craig Robinson and the Beavers -- and was expected to start for Groce and the Illini this year.

Instead, Starks will play his final season of college ball in 2014-15.