Rutgers Freshman Junior Etou Suspended by NCAA for 6 Games

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2013

PISCATAWAY, NJ - JANUARY 24:  The Rutgers Scarlet Knights mascot performs during the game against the Syracuse Orange on January 24, 2005 at the RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey. Syracuse defeated Rutgers 86-84. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Freshman forward Junior Etou will have to wait for some time to make his college basketball debut for Rutgers.

Rutgers issued a full statement following the news:

The NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Staff has ruled that freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo) must be withheld six regular-season games for accepting impermissible benefits from a third party from overseas during the Fall of 2012. This decision was rendered as part of his amateurism certification condition.Impermissible benefits are those benefits provided to an individual based on their status as an athlete, unless other NCAA rules permit the benefit in question. 

“We are thankful to have resolution on this matter,” said Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan. “Junior is acclimating well to the University environment and working hard every day in practice. We look forward to having him on the floor.”

Rutgers University will have no further comment on this matter.

While a suspension certainly hurts Rutgers from a depth perspective, it is much better than losing Etou for the entire season. That is always a possibility when amateur statuses are being investigated by the NCAA, so coach Eddie Jordan can breathe a sigh of relief on that front.

Etou is expected to provide minutes off the bench for the Knights and anchor the defense down low. He was recruited as a shot blocker, which certainly would have helped in those first six games.

Etou is the cousin of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Serge Ibaka, so shot-blocking obviously runs in the family.

Fortunately for Rutgers, it is a fairly manageable stretch, even with only 10 scholarship players. Florida A&M, UAB and Yale make up the first three contests, which isn’t exactly murderer’s row for a nonconference start.

This is the latest dark mark on a tumultuous offseason for the Scarlet Knights that started with coach Mike Rice’s firing for inappropriate behavior toward his players in practice and continued with questions about whether Jordan actually graduated from the university as reported.

Furthermore, the Scarlet Knights already had to sweat out eligibility decisions for transfers J.J. Moore and Kerwin Okoro. Both were granted waivers to play immediately.