Gnonkonde Ruled Eligible

North Carolina freshman Junior Gnonkonde has cleared his final hurdle to became academically eligible to play this fall.

"Junior is qualified and will be in blue at the opening day of camp," said John White, Gnonkonde's legal guardian and Lakeland (Ga.) Lanier County's athletic director.

According to sources close to the situation, when the NCAA Clearinghouse took Gnonkonde's Ivory Coast transcripts into consideration, he was deemed ineligible. However, UNC filed a waver to consider only his Lanier County transcripts and that waver was quickly approved by the NCAA.

North Carolina's team reports for training camp on August 2 and holds its first practice session the following day.

Gnonkonde, who enrolled at UNC in June, stands 6-4, 220-pounds and is projected to play the Bandit position for the Tar Heels. He posted 119 tackles as a senior at Lanier County, including nine sacks, and had two fumble recoveries

Shortly after signing with UNC last February, Gnonkonde was red-flagged by the NCAA Clearinghouse since his transcripts from two years of schooling in the Ivory Coast weren't submitted. He has attended Lanier County since his freshman year, but the Ivory Coast begins high school two years sooner. Thus, in order to determine his academic eligibility, the NCAA Clearinghouse wanted to evaluate those two years in the Ivory Coast plus two years at Lanier County.

Several factors slowed the process. Gnonkonde needed to obtain his official transcripts from his school in the Ivory Coast (not a faxed version), have them translated, and then sent to the NCAA Clearinghouse.

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