Just days before Marquette University was set to open its season, the Golden Eagles were dealt a big blow.
Head coach Buzz Williams announced Monday that sophomore guard Todd Mayo is academically ineligible and unable to practice or play for an indefinite period of time.
“Todd understands success in our program requires a sincere commitment to excellence on and off the floor,” Williams said. “I’m extremely disappointed he’s put himself in this position, but he has the full support of our program as he works to improve.”
The 6-foot-3 guard and brother of Dallas Mavericks’ guard O.J., Mayo averaged 7.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game as a freshman in 2011-12, but was expected to play a much bigger role this season.
Mayo was suspended during the summer for an undisclosed reason but was reinstated in August. At Marquette’s media day in October, Mayo insisted that his summer suspension was not due to academics, but instead to build a better relationship with Williams.
“The season let out, and I was a little bit behind on some stuff,” Mayo said at media day. “They just told me, you know, they sent me home to come back more focused, more prepared. And with all the coaches leaving, that was a big part of it because half of them were guys that recruited me — (Scott) Monarch, (Tony) Benford, Aki (Collins) — and I never really had a relationship with Buzz.”
Mayo was closest to Collins, who left to become an assistant coach under Josh Pastner at Memphis. His departure left the young guard searching for answers.
“I came here because of Aki,” Mayo said at media day. “I really didn’t have a relationship with Buzz and when those guys left, mentally, I was messed up in the head. I didn’t know who to look for, who to trust, and then on the other side of that, he wanted me to go to Memphis, go to this college, this and that, but at the same time, I just had to build a relationship with Buzz and let him know how I was thinking and how he felt about me and that’s what we built.
“I definitely wanted to stay here, but as a freshman, you look for someone to guide you like Aki was. Sometimes, when I was in a bad streak of games, you needed someone to talk to. I didn’t know Buzz could be that guy, and it took all summer to build that relationship.”
It is unknown for how long Mayo will be suspended. It is also unconfirmed whether Mayo is ineligible due to NCAA standards or university standards. According to the NCAA’s web site, “student-athletes must achieve 90 percent of the institution’s minimum overall grade-point average necessary to graduate by the beginning of year two.”
Without Mayo, Marquette suddenly loses a tremendous amount of depth at the guard position. After starters Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue and swingman Trent Lockett, the Golden Eagles have just sophomore guard Derrick Wilson, transfer Jake Thomas and freshman Jamal Ferguson on the bench.