Kentucky counters Dre'Una Edwards' post on not signing waiver

Baylor women's basketball player Dre'Una Edwards, who transferred from Kentucky, said the Wildcats still have not signed what she called a "waiver" to allow her to play this season for the Bears.

However, Kentucky countered that what the school was asked to sign was not a waiver but an "NCAA No Participation Opportunity form," certifying that Edwards would not have had the opportunity to play if she stayed at Kentucky, which she attended the previous three years. Kentucky says it would have been false to sign the form, and that Edwards was informed of that before she transferred.

Even with such a signed form, players in Edwards' situation would still need an NCAA decision to be given immediate eligibility for this season. Because this is Edwards' second transfer -- she began her career with the Utah Utes in 2018 -- she is not eligible for the NCAA's current policy allowing a one-time transfer exemption that keeps players from having to sit out a year.

Edwards acknowledged in her social-media post that she did not graduate from Kentucky, and thus could not be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer, either. She said she has made progress toward her degree with 33 credit hours over the past six months from Baylor.

She did not list any hardship or lack of opportunity to play as reasons for transferring.

"I left Kentucky because I personally decided that I needed a new start," Edwards wrote in her post. "I gave all that I had to Kentucky and wore the uniform with pride. But I wanted a change because I knew a change would be great for me."

Kentucky said its compliance staff met with Edwards in March to give her a detailed outline of what she needed to do in order to be eligible this year if she opted to transfer. Kentucky also said it informed every school that inquired about Edwards, including Baylor, that she would not be eligible for 2022-23 if she did not graduate.

Edwards went to Baylor, which has been attempting to get her eligible in another way.

"We were asked by Baylor to sign an NCAA No Participation Opportunity form, certifying that Dre'Una Edwards would not have had an opportunity to participate if she had stayed at Kentucky," Wildcats coach Kyra Elzy said in a statement. "That would not have been correct; Dre'Una would have had the opportunity to participate if she had stayed. Dre'Una transferred with the understanding that she would have to sit out unless she graduated, which she did not do."

Baylor, currently 11-3 and ranked No. 23, lost two post players to the WNBA draft from last year's Big 12 regular-season championship team: NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo. The Bears saw Edwards as a veteran who could help fill that gap for 2022-23, provided the NCAA allowed her immediate eligibility.

Edwards, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaged 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds as a Utah freshman in 2018-19. She sat out the 2019-20 season after transferring to Kentucky. Edwards averaged 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 2020-21 with the Wildcats, and then 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. Kentucky won the 2022 SEC tournament, but then lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Princeton.

Kentucky star Rhyne Howard was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, while Edwards and two other players transferred from Kentucky.

Baylor coach Nicki Collen had alluded since before this season began to on-going issues with Edwards' eligibility. Asked by reporters Thursday about Edwards' social media post, Collen also referred to what Baylor sought from Kentucky as a "waiver."

"I think what people need to understand is, there's a one-time transfer exception. She doesn't qualify for that; she's a two-time transfer," Collen said. "And she doesn't qualify as a grad transfer because she didn't graduate.

"And so, she needs a waiver to play from Kentucky. She met her Progress Towards Degree requirements by taking all the credits she took here. So she checked off the academic piece of this. But, you know, there are no guarantees."

Baylor confirmed that Edwards does plan to stay to play next season with the Bears.