Texas' P.J. Tucker academically ineligible, out for year
Jan. 20, 2005
SportsLine.com wire reports

AUSTIN -- Sophomore forward P.J. Tucker, the leading scorer and rebounder for No. 15 Texas, is academically ineligible and will miss the rest of the season, the school announced Thursday.

Tucker, averaging 13.7 points and eight rebounds a game, will stay in school and be allowed to practice but is not eligible for competition.

Texas (14-3) plays at No. 18 Oklahoma (14-2) on Saturday.

"I'm really disappointed that I'm going to have to miss the remainder of the season," Tucker said. "I feel like I've let a lot of people down, including myself. I'll spend the spring and summer focusing on my academics so that I can return to the team next fall."

A team spokesman also said starting freshman center LaMarcus Aldridge remains out indefinitely with a hip injury. He missed Texas' victory over No. 5 Oklahoma State on Monday night.

University officials have refused to comment on details of Tucker's academic problems, citing federal privacy laws that protect student records. Tucker acknowledged he did not earn enough credit hours to stay eligible.

"I feel for P.J. right now," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "We hope he can learn a huge lesson from this and come back as a stronger and more mature person. There's no question that his loss will affect our team.

"He feels responsible for it. A prized possession has been taken away from him."

Tucker's loss is a huge blow for the Longhorns. Tucker has been the team's floor leader this season, bringing an innate toughness and a desire to win to a squad infused with freshmen.

"It's hard to understand something like that," junior forward Brad Buckman said. "You don't know what goes through some people's minds. I love the guy so much, it's hard to get down on someone who I feel so strong for. People make mistakes. It's just tough when you have to deal with them. You know he never meant for that to happen."

Barnes said the Longhorns would continue to fight hard through the rest of the schedule. The absence of Tucker and Aldridge should open up more playing time for Dion Dowell and Mike Williams, two members of the Longhorns' heralded freshman class.

"Somebody will emerge," Barnes said. "We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves and nobody else is either. I'm sure there are some people who are licking their chops."