The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team could lose high-profile freshman winger Nic Kerdiles to what one school official said was an extraordinary case involving NCAA amateurism rules.
UW coach Mike Eaves announced Monday that the school is appealing a NCAA decision to make Kerdiles ineligible for the upcoming season.
If that decision were to stand, it’s doubtful that Kerdiles, a second-round NHL draft pick of Anaheim, would remain in school and return to the Badgers in 2013-14. It’s likely the Ducks would want him to continue his development somewhere else this season, which could mean a move to the Major Junior circuit in Canada.
A final response from the NCAA could come this week — the Badgers open the regular season Friday with a non-conference series vs. Northern Michigan in Green Bay — but the process could stretch into next week.
Multiple sources in the NHL and college hockey indicate the NCAA acted on photos and postings made public via social media that involve an agent and took place leading up to the NHL Entry Draft in June.
UW deputy athletic director Sean Frazier, who oversees men’s and women’s hockey and is a former chair of the NCAA Ice Hockey Committee, declined to get into specifics of the case Monday, but said the verdict handed down last Friday by the NCAA was “unprecedented.”
It’s commonplace for hockey prospects like Kerdiles to have family advisers — almost all are certified as professional sports agents — as long as the adviser abides by NCAA rules that prohibit marketing the player, negotiating with professional teams on the player’s behalf or providing extra benefits like clothes, meals or merchandise of value.
It’s not clear what specific issues led the NCAA to rule against Kerdiles, an 18-year-old from Irvine, Calif., but the Bucky’s 5th Quarter website culled a photo from an agent’s Twitter account that showed Kerdiles and two of the agent’s clients holding glasses that advertised a specific energy drink.
The photo could be construed as Kerdiles being marketed by the representative as well as being used to promote a specific product.
The agent who posted the energy drink photo, Toronto-based Ian Pulver of Pulver Sports, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Monday. Pulver was also shown in the photo with Kerdiles and others at dinner.
Former UW goaltender David McNab, the senior vice president of hockey operations for the NHL club that drafted Kerdiles, didn’t return a phone message Monday.
Kerdiles’ mother, Nathalie, declined comment citing instructions from the NCAA.
It was a little over a week ago that Nic Kerdiles sat in the stands at the Kohl Center and spoke glowingly of his time in Madison.
“I love it here,” he volunteered.
Kerdiles took part in practice Monday with the Badgers — their first at the new LaBahn Arena — but wasn’t on any of the top four lines. He was in street clothes Saturday when UW opened the season with a 5-0 win over the U.S. under-18 team in an exhibition game at the Kohl Center.
Coach Mike Eaves was asked to gauge the impact of possibly losing a talent like Kerdiles for this season and beyond.
“Hard to say because he hasn’t been in the lineup,” Eaves said. “But you would project — because of, for example, where he was drafted — that he’d be an impact player.”