Pitt guard Nike Sibande has been granted immediate eligibility for the remainder of the 2020-21 season as part of a ruling by the NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday afternoon.
The council granted a proposal to allow all players with pending waiver requests to be eligible to play this season.
“We are thrilled at the passing of the blanket waiver as we believe it is in line with the D-I SAAC, ensure that all of our student-athletes have the best opportunity to thrive both academically and athletically,” NCAA student-athlete advisory council vice chair Caroline Lee said in a press release.
Sibande required a waiver after transferring from Miami University in Ohio to Pitt after three seasons with the RedHawks. His request for a waiver was initially denied, because the Miami coaching staff refused to support the waiver. An appeal by Sibande was never heard by the NCAA and made moot by Wednesday’s ruling.
A 6-foot-4, 183-pound guard from Indianapolis, Sibande will play immediately in Pitt’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the University of Miami on Wednesday night. In three seasons with the RedHawks, Sibande averaged 15.1 points per game and shot 41.3% from the field.
He is expected to immediately join Pitt’s rotation at shooting guard, where the Panthers have struggled to get consistent production through five games this season.
“He’d be really good for us,” head coach Jeff Capel said this week about Sibande. “Number one, he provides experience. He’s played on the collegiate level for three years. He’s been a really good scorer at this level. When you score 1,500 points in three years, that’s impressive. He’s very athletic. In practice, he’s made shots. In three years at Miami of Ohio, I think he’s made 175 threes. That’s more than anyone we have. So we think that he could help us there. But just to add more experienced perimeter depth.”
Pitt’s Wednesday night opponent will also be buoyed by the ruling. The Hurricanes, who had just six healthy players at practice on Tuesday, will have Stony Brook transfer Elijah Olaniyi available to them for the first time. A 6-foot-5 wing, Olaniyi averaged 18 points per game last season.