Hernandez ruled ineligible, withdraws from Miami

Dewan Hernandez attempts a layup against Virginia Tech on March 9, 2018 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Josh White

Hours after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Hurricanes junior forward Dewan Hernandez announced he will withdraw from the University of Miami and prepare for the 2019 NBA Draft.

The NCAA announced on Monday that Hernandez must sit out the remainder of the season and 40 percent of next season for “entering into an agreement and accepting benefits from an agent.”

“I was advised of the NCAA’s decision about my eligibility and am very disappointed with the outcome. I do not believe that the NCAA treated me fairly, and it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to withdraw from the University of Miami to prepare for the 2019 NBA Draft,” Hernandez said in a statement he posted on Twitter.

Hernandez was withheld from competition from all 19 games so far this season because of his ties to former sports agency runner Christian Dawkins. Hernandez had appealed the decision multiple times, but the NCAA denied his requests.

An NCAA press release said: “According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university, Hernandez agreed to receive monthly payments from an agent and accepted other benefits from the individual. According to the guidelines adopted by NCAA membership, the starting point for these violations is permanent ineligibility, but the NCAA staff recognized mitigating circumstances based on the specific facts of the case when making its decision.”

Yet, despite the NCAA’s statement that Miami agreed to the “facets of the case,” UM Director of Athletics Blake James issued a response saying the school did not concur with the ruling.

“Today’s decision by the NCAA regarding Dewan Hernandez is not only disappointing, but unfair. Based on the totality of the facts, the University is not in agreement with the decisions and interpretations of this case and made it well-known to the NCAA staff that we have many reservations about the reliability of evidence and ultimate conclusions. Dewan was cooperative throughout this process and was transparent about what had occurred, admitting to the mistakes that he made. I am one of the NCAA’s strongest supporters and I am actively involved in its leadership but I would be remiss in my obligations to the association, all student-athletes and to the University of Miami if I did not speak up.”

Earlier this month, UM coach Jim Larrañaga said Hernandez has “made a lot of sacrifices, and deserves to be back playing.”

“He is so team oriented and cares so much about his teammates that he’s been on the bench at every home game, cheering like crazy,” Larrañaga said. “He’s been at every practice he’s been allowed to attend and working his tail off, hoping for the day when he gets the green light to play college basketball again.”

Larrañaga went on to say that he believes that the junior was “duped” by his AAU coach Jordan Fair, who was fired as an assistant coach at Louisville.

But on Monday evening, the coach said Miami has to be focused on the future, rather than the past.

“As excited as we were about signing Dewan, it was so much more enjoyable just to be around him these last three years,” Larrañaga said on WQAM. “I just love the young man, a hard worker, a dedicated athlete, a good student who worked hard in the classroom, someone I just really enjoyed being around. I love the young man. It’s a very, very sad for me and our basketball program to lose a person of his caliber.”

Hernandez’s eligibility was initially questioned in November when ESPN reported the 6-foot-11 forward was one of 19 players listed in an email by Dawkins as potentially receiving payments throughout his sophomore year. The report indicated those payments would have converted to a loan if Hernandez opted to return to school for his junior year instead of entering his name into the draft.

Hernandez averaged 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2017-18.

With Hernandez sidelined, Miami has struggled, dropping three straight games and six of its past seven. The Hurricanes have been limited to just a seven-man rotation.

The Hurricanes (9-10, 1-6 ACC) will host No. 12 Virginia Tech on Wednesday at the Watsco Center.