The University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team and its star guard Da’Zhon Wyche received the unfortunate news about his eligibility status for the 2023 spring semester last week when the NCAA denied his petition for a one-semester relief waiver.
His eligibility was set to expire on Jan. 14 before the spring semester officially began, which would’ve allowed him to play his last two games on the Seawolves’ homecourt in front of friends, family and the student body.
However, on Wednesday, UAA athletic director Ryan Swartwood delivered even more disappointing news.
After additional information came to light in the days since his petition was denied, his eligibility has now been “determined to be expired,” which means he will not be able to participate in the team’s pair of home games against conference opponents this week, starting with Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday.
According to UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, per the NCAA statutes, student-athletes are allowed 10 semesters to use their four years of competition eligibility. The COVID-19 pandemic gave all those enrolled in school an extra year of eligibility because so many athletic seasons were cancelled.
Wyche had already used his COVID season and had medical redshirt eligibility restored after an injury. After transferring from Laramie County CC to University of Texas at Tyler, Wyche attended classes but didn’t compete in the first year to finish his associate degree. However, it was still counted against his clock.
This latest development abruptly ends Wyche’s lone season as a Seawolf and collegiate career altogether.
“Over 35 years of collegiate coaching you have many tough days, however not many rise to the level of the last 24 hours,” Osborne said in a statement. “Although the hurt I feel for Da’Zhon at this point is nothing compared to what he is experiencing, it has been a very painful day. Having known Da’Zhon peripherally for a number of years, I was blessed with the chance to coach him these past five months. What a tremendous experience that became. He of course is a talented basketball player, but he is an even better person. Although he has a quiet personality, my experience with him convinces me he is a shining light in our community and I know he will impact Anchorage for years to come.”
A graduate transfer from the University of Texas at Tyler, the Anchorage native returned to his home state where he starred at the prep level with the hopes of competing in one last full season for his hometown team.
He was a local star at West Anchorage High, where he was named 4A Player of the Year in back-to-back years and led the Eagles to a state championship in 2015.
Through the Seawolves’ first 14 games, he averaged a team-leading 15.8 points per game and led the team in both assists (63) and steals (35). He also ranked third in total rebounds with 52 and his 2.5 steals per game average was the best in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“Da’Zhon did everything our staff asked of him on the floor, but in addition was a tremendous teammate and always there to help in any community service projects,” Osborne added. “We were all looking forward to sending him off on a positive note this weekend, but fate intervened. Even though this is not the ending we wanted, I will always cherish our time together, and am excited that he wants to remain with our program as a coach.”
According to Osborne, Wyche will remain a part of the Seawolf program in a new role as a volunteer assistant for the remainder of the 2022-2023 season.