Air Force center Welch out after second knee surgery

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force center Nick Welch will
miss the entire basketball season after his second operation in
less than three months.

Welch, a senior was named to this year's preseason all-Mountain
West Conference team, was the Falcons' second highest scorer,
averaging 12 points per game, and rebounder, with 3.6 per game, in
30 starts last season, helping the team to its second-best record
in school history at 18-12.

Welch, a 2004 honorable mention All-America selection, missed
the first game of the 2003-04 season after arthroscopic knee
surgery, and he had similar procedures on the same knee in each of
the last two off-seasons. In July, he has surgery for a broken bone
in his left foot, and had surgery in early September to repair a
damaged tendon in his left ankle.

He is expected to fully recover, but has missed so much of his
academic and military obligations this semester because of
rehabilitation that officials decided to grant him a medical
turnback and a ninth semester at the academy to finish his senior
year. He is expected to graduate with the class of 2007.

A medical turnback is the rough equivalent of a redshirt in
civilian schools.

Welch will be eligible to play for the Falcons in the 2006-07
season, but that decision will be up to him and his doctors,
spokesman Troy Garnhart said.