Nevada Will Not Release Malik Cooke from Scholarship

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Nevada athletic director Cary Groth has denied basketball forward Malik Cooke a release in good standing he sought because of family medical and financial hardships.

Cooke and his family cited his stepfather's illness and business financial difficulties in asking to be released from the Nevada program.

Groth denied the request, which was upheld by a university appeal board, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday.

Cooke, a sophomore who averaged 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds while starting every game this past season, has said he wants to purse a transfer to a school closer to his home in North Carolina

While he could still transfer without the official release, he could not receive a scholarship for tuition while he sits out a year before becoming athletically eligible again.

At a news conference last week, Groth said she believed Cooke wanted to stay at Nevada.

"Shortly after postseason play, his step-dad contacted me and Mark Fox and for personal family reasons, he wanted his son released," Groth said. "It is my opinion that Malik didn't want to go."

Fox has since left Nevada to coach at Georgia.

Richard Jones, Cooke's stepfather, said calls to Groth over the past few weeks were not returned. Groth, however, said she spoke with Phillisa Jones, Cooke's mother, over the phone for 45 minutes and left a message for Richard Jones.

Cooke's mother and stepfather flew to Reno earlier this month. While in Reno, they met with Groth and coach David Carter and had a separate meeting with Carter and Sandra Niedergall, the school's director of compliance. At that time, Groth denied Cooke's request for a release in good standing.

"If we are to grant releases, then we would make it easy for athletes to transfer instead of keeping their commitment," Groth told the newspaper. "Much time and money is invested in the recruiting process and while the athletes are at Nevada."

Cooke said he still hopes for a resolution.

"Right now I'm just hoping to get a release so I can move on with my life and put the pieces back together," he said.