UT’s Fatinikun applies for hardship, 5th season

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    The University of Toledo has filed a petition to attain a medical hardship waiver on behalf of injury-riddled football player T.J. Fatinikun.

    The fate of Fatinikun, a standout defensive end who missed 15 games during his junior and senior seasons, lies in the hands of the NCAA. A positive outcome appears to be a long shot, as the NCAA would need to reverse course from its eligibility bylaws to grant a fifth year.

    By virtue of participating in more than 30 percent of his team’s games in either season, Fatinikun exceeds the threshold required for a waiver. Twice an All-Mid-American Conference honoree, the Perrysburg graduate played in five games — 38 percent — in 2012 before sustaining a torn Achilles tendon. He participated in six games in 2011, or 46 percent of the season, before injuring his elbow.

    Toledo last week filed the appeal through the Mid-American Conference. Because Fatinikun does not meet the requirements, the MAC on Monday essentially denied the request and turned over the case to the NCAA, according to Jackie Mynarski of the MAC.

    Toledo is requesting leniency, asking the NCAA to consider the total number of games Fatinikun missed in his final two years — more than a season’s worth — rather than to view each season separately.

    "That’s really what we’re asserting here," said Brian Lutz, Toledo associate athletic director for compliance. "This is a starter on our team. Someone who is a leader and would have reasonably been expected to play in all of those games."

    This request is unlike the one granted last year to Rockets point guard Naama Shafir. Shafir played in just 11 percent of the games before tearing her ACL, thus a hardship waiver was assured.

    The return of Fatinikun would be a major coup for a Rockets team that must replace five other defensive linemen next season. If the appeal is denied, Fatinkun will likely participate in Toledo’s pro day March 12 and pursue a professional career.

    EARLY ENROLLEES: Three members of Toledo’s recruiting class are enrolled for the spring semester, which began Monday: Quarterback Logan Woodside, offensive lineman Boston Mathews, and defensive lineman Rob Zimmerman. Woodside and Mathews will forgo the rest of their high school senior years; Zimmerman transferred in from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.

    Contact Ryan Autullo at:


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    Twitter @AutulloBlade.