COLUMBIA - Faced with sitting out at least another year at South Carolina as the federal investigation into college basketball continues, a "devastated" Brian Bowen felt he had no choice but to remain in the NBA draft.
Bowen announced Wednesday he's leaving the school after the NCAA told South Carolina officials he would miss at least all of next season with the Gamecocks. The NCAA based its decision on alleged benefits received by the Bowen family at his former school Louisville and the governing body's transfer requirement of a year off the court.
"I am completely devastated by the NCAA's ruling," Bowen said in a statement.
The 6-foot-7 Bowen, from Saginaw, Michigan, transferred to South Carolina in January following his suspension from Louisville amid the federal probe after news of an alleged payment involving the Cardinals and his father to get him to join that school.
The federal complaint stated that Adidas representative James Gatto and others attempted to funnel $100,000 to a recruit's family to gain his commitment to play for Louisville. Bowen was not named in documents, but details made clear that investigators were referring to the freshman.
Bowen has denied knowledge of any payment.
Among those indicted were were one-time South Carolina assistant coach Lamont Evans, who coached with Martin for four seasons before leaving for Oklahoma State.
Bowen took part in practices and was out for pre-game events with South Carolina from January through March. He finished with semester with a 3.5 GPA and, coach Frank Martin said, was a model teammate whose goal was to play in college.
South Carolina officials said the NCAA told the school its decision a few days ago and then, Bowen, his family and attorney Jason Setchen considered his options.
"All I ever wanted to do was continue my education and play college basketball," Bowen said. "However, after learning of the ruling, and discussing it with my family and attorney, I've decided to pursue my professional career."
Martin said in January there was a chance Bowen might never suit up for the Gamecocks , given his potential at the pro level. While Bowen took part in the NBA's combine earlier this month, there's no guarantee he will be selected in next month's draft.
Bowen would have had to miss the first semester next season due to the NCAA transfer rules. The governing body made it clear to South Carolina officials that Bowen might have had to sit much, much longer based on the corruption probe.
Auburn sophomore Austin Wiley missed all of last season because of his family's alleged acceptance of thousands of dollars from an adviser that was set up by former Tigers assistant coach Chuck Person. Person was also among those indicted.
Setchen posted on Twitter that Bowen's case was "a tragedy of epic proportions. I cannot express the magnitude of my dismay in the NCAA's "ruling" in this matter. Unlike in the biblical tale of David and Goliath, in this case (at least for now) Goliath has prevailed."
Martin and South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner praised Bowen's work ethic and character and wished him well as a pro.
Bowen thanked Martin for giving him a chance to join the team and get himself back in a good space after his time at Louisville. "I'm grateful to the University of South Carolina and coach Frank Martin for believing in me," he said.
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