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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

It's official: Triplett gets extra year at UT

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Triplett, one of the top players in the Mid-American Conference, sat out his first season at UT, 2000-01, because he was a partial academic qualifier. He has played for the Rockets the last three seasons, and now has been awarded a fourth, as expected.

Kay Hawes, the associate director of media relations for the NCAA, said Triplett has "met the necessary parameters" on the academic side.

"He has made sufficient progress towards his degree, and the university has notified us that he will be using that additional year," Hawes said.

Under former NCAA rules, when a player was an academic casualty in his first year, that year of eligibility was lost, leaving the player with only three years to play. Recently the NCAA began granting the fourth year as long as the player performs well in the classroom and makes sufficient progress toward a degree.

Triplett, grandson of the late Mel Triplett, a star fullback at UT from 1951-54, is enrolled in University College and majoring in an individualized program. He played a big role on last season's 20-11 team that went 12-6 in the MAC and qualified for the National Invitation Tournament for the third time in the last six seasons. With Triplett's return, UT will have all five starters from last season back.

"I felt pretty confident all along that Keith would get the extra year, so this is not a surprise," UT coach Stan Joplin said yesterday. "He's done a great job here academically,

and he's matured, so the credit has to go to Keith Triplett. There were a lot of people who didn't think he'd have much success, but he's going to graduate and I think he proved those people were wrong."

Triplett, who likely will enter the coming season as the odds-on favorite to win MAC player of the year honors, was a first-team all-MAC pick last season after leading the conference in steals with 2.55 per game, and leading the Rockets in scoring (19.6 ppg) and rebounding (4.7 rpg). He was also second on the team in assists (3.1 apg).

Brian Lutz, UT's assistant athletic director for compliance, said Toledo filed the paperwork for Triplett earlier this year, then asked the NCAA for clarification to make certain everything was in order.

"In February, the NCAA basically told us that if he does this, this, and this, then he'll have that fourth season with the team," Lutz said. "They were aware of the situation since his information had been with the NCAA clearinghouse since his freshman year. It was all a matter of making sure the papers were filed so he could have that fourth season of competition."

Triplett is a graduate of Bowsher High School who was first team all-Ohio in Division I as a senior.

Two years ago he was an honorable mention All-MAC choice at UT after leading the Rockets in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounds (5.9 rpg), steals (2.4 spg), three-point field-goal percentage (42.9 percent), free throws made (109) and free throws attempted (139). He also set a school record for steals in a MAC season with 48, surpassing Craig Thames' mark of 46 from the 1995-96 season.

In his first year of competition at UT, Triplett saw action in every game, making 26 starts. He ranked first on the team and fourth in the MAC in steals (1.93 spg) and also led the Rockets in rebounds (6.0 rpg) and was third in scoring (9.3 ppg).

Joplin confirmed yesterday that national power Duke has contacted UT about the possibility of playing a regular-season game at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, with Dec. 12 the date being discussed. He was quick to point out that no contracts have been signed, and that other scheduling matters must be resolved.

The Rockets already were slated to play Siena at home on Dec. 12, so that game would have to be rescheduled to make the Duke game happen.



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