UConn has had to play musical scholarships before. But with NCAA and APR restrictions looming over the program, simply waiving little-used players to make room for the uber-prospect du jour isn't exactly an option at this time.
Oh, Andre Drummond is still a comin'.
But to clear the way for the No. 2-ranked prospect in the Class of 2012, the athletic department had to get a little creative.
Because the Huskies recruited Drummond, he cannot simply walk on to the team -- despite previous reports indicating it was an option -- according to ESPN.com's Andy Katz. Instead, Katz reports, the athletic department, functioning as an on-the-same-page unit in the wake of Jeff Hathaway's "retirement," has been working to ensure a scholarship for Drummond even though UConn is over its limit of 10 for this season.
However, in order to do so, there needs to be a fall guy. And that player, Katz says, is redshirt freshman Michael Bradley.
ESPN.com has learned through a source that Connecticut Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, interim athletic director Paul Pendergast, UConn president Susan Herbst and at least one member of the compliance department met Friday to ensure that it was possible to add another scholarship player -- a big one -- even though the program is officially out of scholarships.
Once it was determined that one player on the current roster -- a source told ESPN.com it is redshirt freshman Michael Bradley -- could possibly qualify for financial aid days before the fall semester begins this week, a call was made to Andre Drummond's camp that a possible scholarship was available.
Bradley, who redshirted in the 2010-11 season, was quickly dubbed the most likely candidate to become the next in a long of forced transfers, mostly because of his ho-hum pedigree and the fact that he's one of the few non-medical redshirts I'd ever seen in college basketball. But with multiple transfers, early defections to the draft and poor academic finishes by players that did stay the full four years already costing it scholarships, the program -- and, more specifically, the athletic department, which has come under intense scrutiny the past ... well, year, maybe longer -- can't allow Bradley to simply walk away.
Instead, the triumvirate of Calhoun, Herbst and Pendergast have been talking to Bradley and his family in an attempt to get him to agree to giving up his scholarship for a year and going on financial aid.
If a player can qualify for financial aid (or if he can pay his own way), then he can go from scholarship to non-scholarship with an exception and not count against your roster. But the player, in this case Bradley, has to agree to the proposal to take on financial aid and likely a loan. A source said the discussion with Bradley and his family was well underway and everything will almost certain get worked out, but that the school was caught a bit off-guard by Drummond's surprise, preemptive tweet.
There's still no word on what led to Drummond's quick change of heart -- although, the Connecticut Post's Neil Ostrout hypothesizes that Kris Dunn perhaps decided to leave Wilbraham & Munson after hearing of Drummond's intentions to leave for Storrs.
But the quick turnaround, which turns UConn into a strong candidate to repeat as national champion this season, is a nice start for the under-new-management athletic department ... even if it came at the cost of Bradley's scholarship.