No-pro volleyball
rules snag UH player

Costas Theocharidis'
violation may result in
a four-game forfeiture

Costas Theocharidis played in four volleyball matches against professionals prior to the University of Hawaii's 2002 national championship season, according to sources close to the situation.

The most decorated player for the men's program did not play with professionals, nor did he accept money, but he is still in violation of NCAA rules. The reigning 2003 AVCA Player of the Year is in Puerto Rico this summer playing professionally after completing his eligibility at UH in the spring. It is not known when the academic All-American will return to Oahu, but he stated last spring that he intended to graduate this fall.

It is unknown who alerted the NCAA to the violation, but the governing body sent an official inquiry to UH in early May. Last week, the university submitted a report of its own internal investigation that concluded that Hawaii had used an ineligible player. University officials did not identify the player.

"It's about eligibility issues stemming from participation in a pro league," UH athletic director Herman Frazier said last week.

In a university statement, Frazier said the men's volleyball coaching staff could not have known about the violation until the conclusion of the investigation.

Hawaii coach Mike Wilton continued to refuse comment on the case until the NCAA makes a ruling.

"No, I have no comment," Wilton said yesterday. "The report that went out from Herman Frazier's office, that's all that I'm in accord with right now."

How the NCAA might regard the violation is unknown, but in previous cases involving members of other Hawaii sports teams, players were suspended for a number of games the following season. Freshman Pedro Azenha missed Hawaii's first four matches this year for competing in an international tournament.

Former Hawaii basketball standout Predrag Savovic was suspended for seven games during the 2001-02 season for playing against professionals in Europe. Tony Akpan sat out 15 games that same season, and center Haim Shimonovich missed 22 games during the 2000-01 season for similar violations.

Since Theocharidis has already finished competing for Hawaii, the men's volleyball team may have to forfeit the first four games of the 2002 season. The Warriors opened that year with a loss to Loyola-Chicago before winning three straight against Loyola Chicago, Penn State and Lewis.

It is unlikely Hawaii will have to forfeit its national championship as widely speculated last week, which was not a concern to some players.

"I wasn't really worried," said former Hawaii captain Eyal Zimet. "(Taking away the national championship) is not the right thing to do. Other than that, I can't comment about anything."

But Zimet did say the issue of competing against professionals has broad interpretations.

"If they do something about it, you can find something illegal with these rules, and anybody can come and interpret it," he said. "You can take any kid -- it doesn't matter if it's international or from the United States -- and you can find an occasion that he played against somebody that was on a contract.

"These rules are very, very broad. A lot of players can fall in between this. I don't think it's fair. It's the same thing if a kid from the United States is playing in a summer league against a basketball player from the CBA that had a contract. Are you going to say you can't play because of him?"


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