Emmanuel Negedu’s UNM basketball career was grounded before
it could take off.
Negedu, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest on Sept. 28, 2009,
while part of the Tennessee basketball team, received an NCAA
Medical Disqualification Waiver on Wednesday.
He transferred to UNM in 2010 after Tennessee doctors refused
to clear him to play, but was sidelined 10 games into the Lobos’
season after the cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest detected
an abnormal reading.
Negedu said he is grateful UNM gave him another opportunity to play basketball.
“I was waiting for this to happen,” he said. “Getting the news that this was going to happen, I talked to coach, and I feel more comfortable because coach has been there for me, and I’m happy to be with my coaches and teammates.”
Under the NCAA waiver, Negedu will maintain his scholarship for the remainder of his three years of eligibility, and his scholarship
won’t count against the men’s 13 basketball scholarships.
Negedu last played in the first half of the Lobos’ Dec. 19 game against Citadel. UNM was among a handful of schools that considered
giving Negedu another chance to play basketball.
In the end, it was UNM that took the risk. Negedu will remain a member of the team, but will not be allowed to participate in games or team practices.
Head coach Steve Alford said Negedu will still be an integral
part of the team.
“His passion is to play, and there’s where his heart is,” Alford
said. “The positive thing is that he’s at a positive place where
everybody really cares about him. He’s given it a great shot, and now
he’s going to be shut down from playing.”
Negedu said that he isn’t worried about his long-term basketball
career, so much as finishing his college education.
“People are just like, ‘Oh, Eman can’t play basketball anymore,’”
he said. “But the people I’m with, they’re like dads to me. But down the line I’m going to get my degree, but if I still want to play
basketball and everything is good for me, I’m going to go ahead and
In 10 games, Negedu averaged 4.7 points per game and 5.4 rebounds.
He said he won’t transfer to another school so that he can play.
“Nah,” he said. “I just love it here, and I want to be with the
guys and the coaches. I don’t think there is any other place that
I would want to go.”