Orlando Sanchez gets NCAA waiver

The NCAA has granted St. John's Orlando Sanchez a waiver and the junior will be allowed to play for the Red Storm next season.

Sanchez had been declared ineligible by the NCAA after the organization determined that, at age 24, he had used up his four years of eligibility.

"It's big news. I can play next year. I'm so happy," Sanchez said Thursday in a statement released by the school. "I'm going to call my grandma right now and tell her the great news. I'm going to tell them, 'I'm free. I can play.' I'd like to thank my lawyer Robert Orr, coach Lavin, the entire staff, to our fans as well, my teammates and everybody. Thank you very much."

Sanchez played for a club team in his native Dominican Republic, 3 minutes 38 seconds in a game with the DR national team and also two years at a New York-based junior college.

The university, however, argued that Sanchez should be granted a waiver to the legislation based on hardship. Sanchez was forced to drop out of high school at 17 to work to support his family. He did not graduate high school until he was 21 and only was discovered by a representative from the Dominican Republic national team when he was playing a pickup game.

Earlier this week, St. John's submitted paperwork for what essentially was its last chance to get Sanchez's ineligibility overturned.

"We are pleased with the NCAA's decision to grant Orlando Sanchez a year of eligibility," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said in a statement. "We are grateful that he will be able to contribute on the court next season, as well as pursue his dream of earning his college degree. We are proud of how Orlando demonstrated patience and grace during this process."