Pitino furious: NCAA denies Rakeem Buckles appeal to join Gophers


The NCAA has denied Florida International forward Rakeem Buckles appeal to transfer to Minnesota and be eligible to play this year.

Buckles, who spent three years at Louisville, sat out last season at FIU while rehabbing the second of two catastrophic knee injuries. He planned to join Richard Pitino at Williams Arena, who he played under at Louisville when Pitino was an assistant and in Florida for the year he was a head coach.

The NCAA had other plans despite allowing Gopher newcomer Malik Smith to do essentially the same thing, and Pitino's reaction didn't spare feelings.

"I'm just blown away by it. It makes no sense. It's amazing the NCAA can do this," Pitino told ESPN.com. "He's a model student-athlete who had a 3.2 GPA when he left Louisville. He just wants a chance to play in another NCAA tournament."

FIU is not eligible to play in the NCAA tournament because of poor academic performances under former head coach Isiah Thomas.

Others have echoed Pitino's feelings.

With the power forward being denied his maroon and gold request, the Gophers are left with the unproven foursome of Charles Buggs, Maurice Walker, Oto Osenieks, and Joey King to fill the power forward position.

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