Cincinnati Optimistic NIA Prep's Thomas Will Be Cleared

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said he’s optimistic that incoming freshman Shaq Thomas of Newark NIA Prep will be cleared to play during the 2011-12 season.

“Our compliance department is working with the NIA school as well as the NCAA and we’re confident that everything is going to work out,” Cronin told SNY.tv Friday morning.

As first reported Thursday by SNY.tv, the 6-foot-7 Thomas is one of six NIA Prep athletes, including four basketball players, ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Alif Muhammad of NIA Prep said he is appealing on behalf of all six athletes.

Ryan Rhoomes (Texas Christian), Kelvin Amayo (Towson) and Ibn Muhammad (Fairleigh Dickinson) are the other three basketball players.

Muhammad said that since 2006, 28 NIA athletes have qualified to play Division 1 sports.

Sources said Cincinnati has been working with the NCAA on Thomas since August of 2010 because Tim Thomas, Shaq’s uncle and a former NBA player, initially wanted Shaq to enroll as a redshirt freshman for the 2010-11 season. Tim Thomas was not immediately available for comment.

It is possible that some combination of the four basketball players could get cleared, and others could not.

“One guy could get cleared, and another could get denied,” a source with knowledge said.

Meantime, NIA features other high-major players in Darrick Wood and Mike Taylor whose status remains up in the air because the NCAA is looking at NIA.

Neither Wood nor Taylor were immediately available, but Muhammad told SNY.tv that the 6-foot-4 Wood has over 50 scholarship offers and planned to remain at NIA next season.

The 6-3 Taylor, meanwhile, needs a high school diploma, Muhammad said.

“He has the classes, but he didn’t receive a diploma from Boys and Girls [High],” Muhammad said of the former Rutgers pledge. “All he has to do is come here and once he’s here he gets that diploma.”

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