Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Uhart gains additional year of eligibility with Jayhawks

August 17, 2006

When Natalie Uhart transferred to the University of Kansas last spring, the 2003 Lansing High graduate expected to be a Jayhawk for one year.

She'd spent her first three years of college playing volleyball for national powerhouse Long Beach State, and she'd been unable to salvage her junior year of eligibility after injuries limited her to just five matches and 19 total games in 2005.

The NCAA states that student-athletes may be granted an additional year of athletic eligibility if they participate in fewer than 20 percent of the team's scheduled contests because of injury.

After transferring to Kansas, the KU coaching staff helped Uhart submit the required paperwork to the NCAA explaining her situation. On Monday, Uhart and KU coach Ray Bechard received news from the NCAA that Uhart had been granted a medical-hardship waiver and would have two years of eligibility remaining at Kansas.

"We are thrilled to have Natalie for another year," Bechard said in a press release. "It's a great opportunity for her and our program. Natalie brings solid, high-level volleyball experience and is expected to be a contributing factor right away."

Uhart is expected to fill the void left by four-time All-Big 12 First Team selection Josi Lima at middle blocker. Uhart played the position at LBSU and was a member of the Big West All-Freshman Team in 2003 after leading the 49ers in blocks per game.

In addition to the KU staff, other Big 12 coaches also have high expectations for Uhart, a two-time Kansas High School Gatorade Player of the Year at Lansing High who led the Lions to the 2002 Class 4A state championship. The 6-foot-2 Uhart was voted Big 12 Conference Preseason Newcomer of the Year last week.

"Natalie brings solid, high-level volleyball experience to Kansas," Bechard said. "She is expected to enter into the middle blocker position and be a contributing factor right away."

Uhart and the Jayhawks will make their first public appearance of the season at 7 p.m. Saturday when they open the season with a scrimmage against KU alumni at Horejsi Center. Admission is free.

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