October 5 update: The NCAA has reversed course on Walker’s eligibility, saying the wide receiver is now good to go for the 2023 season. The NCAA says UNC previously did not make some key information available, which would’ve made Walker eligible to play earlier. The Tar Heels are undefeated and ranked in the top 15, so getting Walker back at this stage is huge for them.
Huge news from NCAA: Tez Walker is eligible for the Tar Heels this year. NCAA: "Staff determined the new information qualifies Walker for a transfer waiver. The information had not been made available by UNC previously, despite the school’s multiple chances to do so."— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) October 5, 2023
North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Devontez “Tez” Walker was denied his second appeal for a transfer waiver by the NCAA on Thursday and has been deemed ineligible for the entire 2023 season.
Walker transferred from Kent State to UNC this past January, just two days before the NCAA altered its own rules to make it harder for athletes who have transferred more than once during their college careers to become immediately eligible. The organization originally denied Walker’s waiver request for eligibility in early August and held firm in its decision on Thursday even amidst intense public backlash against the ruling.
UNC head coach Mack Brown delivered a scathing rebuttal to the NCAA’s decision immediately afterwards.
A statement from UNC HC Mack Brown on Tez Walker pic.twitter.com/ngm5jKlL20— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) September 7, 2023
A Class of 2019 out of Charlotte, NC, Walker was originally slated to play at East Tennessee State before an ACL tear deferred his collegiate enrollment. He ultimately found a home at North Carolina Central in 2020, but didn’t play any games as a freshman due to the MEAC cancelling the entire fall sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He ultimately transferred to Kent State the following summer and broke out as a First Team All-MAC receiver in 2022, catching 58 passes for 928 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In January, he decided to jump into the transfer portal once again and landed at UNC, primarily to be closer to his ailing grandmother who had never seen him play in person. He was poised to be an immediate impact transfer for the Tar Heels and even made the preseason All-ACC team. He applied for an immediate eligibility waiver from the NCAA citing extenuating circumstances, but the organization didn’t budge.
This is a huge blow to Walker and North Carolina, who sit only behind Florida State and Clemson in the pecking order of ACC championship contenders this season.