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UT gets NCAA waiver

Women's basketball team allowed to exceed scholarship numbers

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Naama Shafir's choice to return for a fifth year, after missing this past season with a torn ACL, combined with thee new freshmen put the Rockets over the scholarship limit.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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The NCAA has granted the University of Toledo a waiver allowing its women's basketball team to exceed the maximum number of scholarship players for next season.

This news comes as a sigh of relief for the Rockets, who found themselves in a bind when senior Naama Shafir opted to return for a fifth year after suffering a season-ending ACL tear in November. Her return, combined with the arrival of three freshmen, put UT at 16 scholarship players -- one more than the NCAA allows.

As payback, UT will not be able to fill one of its scholarships for the following season in 2013-14. Had the outcome gone differently, UT coach Tricia Cullop would've been forced to dismiss a scholarship player to satisfy the scholarship threshold.

"We're thrilled with the news of this waiver because we could not control the situation nor did we want to take away an opportunity from any of our players," Cullop said. "This is fantastic news."

Shafir suffered an ACL tear Nov. 25 in a win at Indiana, a few weeks after Cullop signed high school guards Cat Wells of Notre Dame Academy, Michelle Hayes of Southfield, Mich., and Kendyl Nunn of suburban Chicago.

Shafir, a star point guard who led the Rockets to the Women's National Invitational Tournament championship in 2011, announced in January her intention to return for a fifth year. The NCAA formally granted her request last month.

Cullop plans to sign three recruits in November, bringing her team's scholarship total to 14 to adhere to the NCAA's imposed limit for 2013-14.

"We were optimistic we would receive this waiver, so we've been recruiting with that intention in mind," she said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.

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