USC basketball: Could senior guard Jio Fontan be a Trojan for two more seasons?
In his first public comments since suffering a season-ending ACL tear in Brazil last week, USC senior guard Jio Fontan said Tuesday that he plans to apply for a medical hardship waiver that will allow him to play an additional season at USC.
Not that surprising. Here's where it gets interesting:
In January, Fontan told The Times he planned to file an appeal with the NCAA for an additional season of eligibility for his sophomore season in 2009-10 at Fordham in which he played five games before deciding to transfer.
If the NCAA grants him a waiver for his injury this season and grants his appeal for an additional season for his shortened sophomore season, he could be at USC for two more full seasons.
"There's a possibility, you never know, I could end up with two more years, I could end up with one more year," he told school officials Tuesday.
Still, you never know until the decisions are made, and at least one of them could take time.
Hardship waivers are initially handled at the conference level and are presented at a meeting of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Committee, but if the petition is urgent, it can be acted upon by overnight mail or email. (A petition may be presented at any time during a player's academic career.)
Per Pac-12 Confernce guidelines, eligibility petitions are due in the conference's main office 21 days prior to that FARC meeting. The FARC meeting dates and eligibility petition deadlines for 2011-12 are Oct. 3, March 8 and June 1. USC needs a three-fourths approval to have the hardship waive approved.
If it's denied, USC can appeal to the NCAA, but that waiver should be a slam dunk.
The other waiver, though, has to go directly to the NCAA, and the NCAA tries to have a response within 10 business days, but that's only when the NCAA has all the information it needs to make that decision -- and gathering it can take time.
Part of what can make that aspect so tricky is that the NCAA needs information from his previous school, Fordham, which would have to support his waiver for an additional season, too.
It's a wildcard as to whether or not Fordham would do that.
Also in his comments Tuesday, Fontan said the swelling on his left knee has to go down it can be operated on, but that surgery should occur within the next week or so.
Fontan also recapped how the injury occured.
"During the game, I had the ball -- I believe we were on a transition play -- and I went to the basket to get a layup. I stepped off my left leg. I felt it pop out and I heard the noise. And it snapped back in. I dropped to the ground immediately and I started to scream for the trainer ... He came right away."
-- Baxter Holmes
Correction amended: A previous version of this post included incorrect information about the process to apply for a medical hardship waiver.
Photo: USC's Jio Fontan puts up a shot in front of Cal's Markhuri Sanders-Frison during a Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinal game in March. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times