RENO, Nev. - Nevada offensive player of the year Vai Taua has been ruled academically ineligible for the Sheraton Hawai`i Bowl, the school announced on Saturday.
"I'm upset and disappointed that Vai didn't fulfill his obligations as a student-athlete," head coach Chris Ault said in a statement released by the University. "He has let his team down and I will evaluate his future with the program after the bowl game. Our focus now is on the upcoming game and our program is moving forward in that direction."
Taua failed to meet NCAA requirements to participate in the postseason. He did not travel with the team, which arrived in Honolulu late Friday night. The Wolf Pack will play Southern Methodist on Dec. 24 at 5 p.m.
"This is disappointing for all of us, including Vai," athletics director Cary Groth said in the statement. "Like all of our student-athletes, Vai was aware of his academic responsibilities. We are all hopeful that this will be a positive learning experience for him moving forward."
On Friday, Groth told KOLO-8 an unidentified player informed the team he was in danger of failing a class. Nevada's athletic director said the player and school would not know for certain if the player would be eligible until final grades were posted later in the day.
Taua led the Wolf Pack's number one rushing attack with 1345 yards and 10 touchdowns, this season. He was a first-team all WAC selection and also earned a spot on Sports Illustrated's All-American honorable mention list.
Nevada became the first school in NCAA history to have three one thousand yard rushers this season. With Taua and Luke Lippincott (broken toe) both out, Colin Kaepernick is the only one available for the Hawai'i Bowl.
Despite the loss of Taua, the school insists its football program has one of the highest Academic Progress Rates (APR) among Western Athletic Conference schools at 945, according to the most recent data available.
Neither Coach Ault nor anyone else associated with the Wolf Pack football program will have further comment.