After a well-documented NCAA ruling that first saw Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles suspended for the entire season and later saw the decision toned down to 10 games, Kerdiles joined Badgers’ coach Mike Eaves at his weekly media conference on Monday.
Without taking questions from the assembled media to start, Kerdiles opened with a statement.
Dealing with the unexpected questions and controversy surrounding my NCAA eligibility has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I still do not understand everything that has happened to me in this process or why it has happened at all, but I appreciate the support of my teammates, coaches and the university have shown me through this ordeal.
The NCAA appeal decision which reduced the withholding penalty assessed against me allows me to move forward with my character, reputation and integrity intact. While I’m still disappointed and frustrated that any penalty was imposed, I have considered my options carefully and do not wish to create a continuing distraction for my team or prolong this matter further. My goal is not to turn this situation into any kind of adversity that my team would have to overcome.
Therefore, I’m choosing to move forward, put all my energy and focus into being the best student-athlete I can be and prepare myself to rejoin my teammates competing on the ice as soon as possible. Growing up in California and playing youth hockey, I always looked up to the older players from the area. Most signed to play in the major junior league up north, the WHL, but many made commitments to college. Those guys like Brett Bebe, Garrett Haar, Troy Power, and Rocco Grimaldi, to name a few, showed my family and me another option, a chance to play high level hockey and still continue with earning a degree.
That is why I’m here at Wisconsin, to be the best student-athlete I can be, and to work toward my degree at an amazing university. It is my turn to be a role model for young hockey players in California and the West Coast. I take that responsibility very seriously and would be devastated to see any of them change their path from college route to junior just because of the adversity I faced as a student-athlete. I still want to be that role model for California and West Coast hockey players. I want them to consider and understand going the college route.
I will pursue that goal by staying here at the University of Wisconsin.
By serving a penalty that remains enormously difficult to accept and by representing my university as a true student-athlete. I’ve loved every second of my first couple of months here, even with all of this stuff going on. I truly believe that I am meant to be here and meant to continue pursuing my ultimate goal of playing in the NHL.
I’m so glad to be able to call myself a Badger and to continue doing so. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, and university staff for all their assistance and support, and I look forward to seeing you on the ice very soon.
Eaves also commented on the situation, praising Kerdiles for the mature manner with which he has handled the situation.
“It has been an interesting process, to say the least,” said Eaves. “Every once in a while, you have a true freshman come in who is beyond his years in emotional and mental state and Nic is one of those young people. I think it speaks to his upbringing with his mom and dad. This has been difficult for them as well to understand, but they’ve kept cool heads. The upbringing that Nic has had has certainly helped him get through these tough times, no question about that.”
Kerdiles is eligible to play his first game Nov. 30 on the road at Denver.