AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas freshman basketball players Carla Cortijo and Earnesia Williams both have received medical hardship waivers from the NCAA, and will have four years of athletic eligibility remaining as they enter the 2006-07 season.
Williams, a 6-0 scholastic All-American and the 2005 Gatorade State Player of the Year out of Sapulpa, Okla. and Sapulpa High School, suffered her injury during the Dec. 4th game against No.1 Duke as she was making her first collegiate start. Cortijo, an All-American from Bellaire, Texas and Bellaire HS also last played against Duke.
On January 6, both freshmen under surgery for their respective injuries. Cortijo underwent a surgical arthroscopy for a torn left knee lateral meniscus. Williams underwent reconstructive surgery of her right knee for a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Both underwent immediate rehabilitation and missed the rest of the season.
Williams and Cortijo were two of the seven heralded freshmen that UT head coach Jody Conradt brought to Texas for 2005-06, a class which was ranked the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. Conradt signed four scholastic standouts for 2006-07, headlined by consensus All-America 6-0 guard Brittainey Raven (Fort Worth, Texas/North Crowley, HS), a McDonald's and WBCA/Nike All-American and Second Team All-USA Today All-America pick.
Williams and Coritjo will now join that class, athletic eligibility-wise, at the Forty Acres.
The other three incoming recruits along with Raven include Texas All-State stars Niqky Hughes, a 6-1 forward who led 32-6 Waxachachie High School to the Class 4A State title in March with a 52-48 win over Kerrville Tivy, while gaining MVP honors in the process; 5-11 forward Gabrielle Mattox (Kountze, Texas/Kountze HS), who led her squad to the three State championship (final four) showings in four years, including a semifinal appearance in 2006; and 6-3 forward Kristen Nash (Plano, Texas) who helped 35-6 Plano West HS to the State 5A championship this past March, defeating Rockwall, 54-47. Mattox and Hughes were named to the UIL State All-Tournament Team as well, in their respective divisions.
To qualify for a medical hardship, a student-athlete must be unable to compete because of injury or illness for a set portion of a season and have medical documentation, according to NCAA bylaws. If a student-athlete suffers a season-ending injury or illness after competing in a limited amount of competition during a particular academic year, he/she may qualify for a medical hardship waiver which would allow him/her an additional season of competition during the five-year period of eligibility.