Zsolt Gaspar Ruled Ineligible, South Carolina Devastated

By Phillip Whitten

PHOENIX, Ariz., March 5. UNIVERSITY of South Carolina superstar, Zsolt Gaspar, was declared ineligible by the NCAA yesterday, dealing a devastating blow to the Gamecocks' NCAA aspirations.

A press release declared that "as a result of the participation of an ineligible student-athlete, the
University of South Carolina will have 180 points deducated from its final score in the 2002 Southeastern Conference Men's Swimming and Diving
Championships, held Feb. 20-24 at Fayetteville, Ark."

Though the student-athlete was not identified, swiminfo has learned it was Gaspar. He was also declared ineligible to compete at the NCAA Championships. Apparently, no action was taken regarding dual meets in which he swam for South Carolina this season.

South Carolina head coach Don Gibb declined to comment.

Gaspar's ineligibility resulted in South Carolina losing 180 points, as all of his results at the SECs were vacated. The senior had won the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly. He had also swum on SC's second-place 400 free relay, third-place 800 free relay, fourth place 200 free relay and seventh place 200 medley relay.

The decision changed the scoring of the SEC Championships from:

1. Auburn 763
2. Florida 744
3. Georgia 522.5
4. Tennessee 476
5. South Carolina 339
6. Alabama 314
7. Kentucky 282
8. LSU 174.5

…to a

1. Auburn 763
2. Florida 744
3. Georgia 522.5
4. Tennessee 476
5. Alabama 314
6. Kentucky 282
7. LSU 174.5
8. South Carolina 159

Gaspar had carried South Carolina's hopes for a Top Ten NCAA finish on his broad shoulders, as he ranked number one in the nation this season in both the 100 yard free (42.89) and 100 yard fly (46.60).

Though no explanation was given for Gaspar's ineligibility, swiminfo has learned that the decision was based on a technicality in NCAA rules.

Specifically, in 1998, when he was past his twenty-first birthday, Gaspar, a Hungarian, swam at his nation's national championships before enrolling at SC. Under NCAA rules, if an athlete passes his twenty-first birthday before enrolling, and competes (in the sport for which he desires eligibility) at a major event, he loses one year of eligibility for every year he is over the age of 21.

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Author: Archive Team


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