Notifications from the NCAA tend toward the bad news, but on Wednesday, Sept. 4, University of Memphis coach Josh Pastner and guard Michael Dixon got good news: He has been cleared to play for the Tigers this season.
“We’re very appreciative of everyone in the process,” Pastner said.
Pastner said Dixon and his father cried when he delivered the news over the phone. Memphis opponents might have reason to weep as well. Dixon, a Missouri transfer and former Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, will have one year of eligibility and joins three other seniors in a loaded backcourt: Joe Jackson, the 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford.
Pastner said the NCAA originally denied the university’s request for a waiver that would allow Dixon to play this year. The U of M then appealed to the NCAA’s Sub-Committee for Legislative Relief, and Dixon’s eligibility was restored.
“We certainly want to thank the NCAA for their efforts and the professionalism with which this matter was handled,” U of M athletics director Tom Bowen said in a statement.
As has been well-documented, Missouri suspended Dixon from its basketball team after a second allegation of sexual assault against Dixon became public. He was never charged in either situation. But Dixon and the school never reached agreement on a return, and he ended up sitting out all last year and then transferring to Memphis.
Pastner said again Wednesday that “we did our due diligence” before accepting Dixon as a transfer. As a junior, Dixon averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists off the bench. He brings a reputation for on-court toughness and leadership. And like the three returning seniors, he’s used to winning.
“I’m 35,” Pastner said. “Let’s say I coach till I’m 70. I might never again have four senior guards who each guy has won 30 games.”
In an interview here this summer, Dixon said the time sitting out only provided motivation for his return to college and the court.
“I have a lot of fuel built up in me as far as basketball and proving to people I’m a good person as well as a good basketball player,” Dixon said.