Alabama announced Tuesday it will support a waiver to allow women's basketball player Daisha Simmons to compete this season at Seton Hall. The issue is now expected to return to the NCAA for review.
Seton Hall officials told espnW that they were hopeful Simmons, a graduate student who has one season of eligibility left, would be allowed to play in 2014-15.
The Simmons situation had prompted criticism of Alabama from media outlets and social media in recent weeks.
Initially, Alabama had given Simmons a release from her scholarship to transfer to Seton Hall but had not supported the waiver. The NCAA had ruled that without the waiver from her previous school, she would need to sit out this season but could play in 2015-16.
Simmons said illnesses in her immediate family contributed to her desire to transfer to Seton Hall, which is close to her home in New Jersey. She wants to finish her collegiate career this season.
Simmons' older brother, Chaz, has kidney disease; he is on dialysis awaiting a transplant. Her mother, Christena, works two jobs in support of the family and has been dealing with health issues as well.
In a statement Tuesday, Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said, "Much of the university's original decision not to endorse a waiver was based on the fact that Miss Simmons declined to provide any information supporting her reasoning for seeking a waiver. This was despite requests to obtain documentation verifying hardship to support a waiver request."
Simmons told espnW on Monday that in her meeting with Alabama deputy director of athletics Shane Lyons in June -- when she was initially requesting to be released from her scholarship -- she did not provide that documentation because she didn't have it.
Later, though, after Simmons had gotten her release and transferred to Seton Hall, that university sent documentation to both the NCAA and Alabama about her brother's health in hopes of securing the waiver.
Normally, a graduate student who still has athletic eligibility could play immediately after transferring. However, because Simmons had transferred earlier in her career, she needed the waiver from Alabama as part of the case she and Seton Hall made to the NCAA to allow her to play this season.
Simmons also told espnW that part of her decision to transfer was that she did not get into the MBA program at Alabama but did so at Seton Hall. She said she felt that Alabama had not supported the waiver because the school was upset about her leaving after she had initially said in March that she would stay for her senior season.
In a letter to the NCAA in August, Battle had said Simmons' decision to leave in May had put the Crimson Tide program in a difficult position in terms of replacing her.
Alabama coach Kristy Curry told espnW on Monday that while she backed her administration's initial decision to not support the waiver, she was not opposed to Simmons playing this season.
"I hope Daisha is successful in her life at whatever she decides to pursue," Curry said. "I appreciate the role that Daisha played in our program last year."
Simmons, a 5-foot-10 guard from Jersey City, N.J., played the first season of her college basketball career at Rutgers in 2010-11 but then transferred to Alabama.
After sitting out 2011-12, she started for the Crimson Tide the past two seasons, averaging 12.4 points per game as a sophomore and 13.8 as a junior.
In between those seasons, Alabama coach Wendell Hudson moved to an administrative role at the school, and the Crimson Tide hired Curry to run the team.
Tide to back Daisha Simmons waiver
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