Stephen Lumpkins plans to return to the AU men’s basketball team for the 2012-2013 season, Head Coach Jeff Jones announced August 14.
“I always planned to return to American and complete my degree,” Lumpkins said in a statement. “Being away for a year made me realize how much I miss basketball. I enjoyed my three years on the AU team very much, and I am hopeful I can play again in my final year.”
Lumpkins, who left AU after his junior year to pursue a professional baseball career with the Kansas City Royals, must first receive approval from the Patriot League to compete this season.
Since he is still within his NCAA five-year eligibility window and NCAA rules permit student-athletes who play on a professional team to remain eligible in a different sport, it would seem that Lumpkins would be ruled eligible.
In the meantime, AU is putting together all of the necessary materials in order for the Patriot League to review the case.
“We are preparing the paperwork to send in to the Patriot League, but I don’t know what to expect in terms of the turnaround,” Jones told The Eagle. “It’s my understanding that he will be able to participate in the conditioning and lifting in the early fall, but the question with the Patriot League waiver is whether or not he can compete.”
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward etched his name into the record books in his first three years with the Eagles. Lumpkins ranks fourth all time at AU in blocks (107), seventh in career field goal percentage (54 percent) and 19th in rebounds (604).
During the 2010-2011 campaign, Lumpkins averaged 13.5 points per game and hauled down over eight rebounds per contest en route to being named to the All-Patriot League Second Team.
Due to NCAA rules, Lumpkins won’t be on scholarship since he obtained professional status in baseball. Until the Patriot League comes to a decision, it’s unclear whether or not Lumpkins will be cleared to play.
“I have no idea [what they’ll decide],” Jones said. “They’ll have to review it and give their response. We’re certainly hopeful that he’ll be able to play. We’re in a wait-and-see mode right now.”