The Kentucky Wildcats will have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of Joey Gatewood for the 2020 season, if there is one.
Gatewood, who spent his first two seasons with the Auburn Tigers, transferred to UK this past January and briefly took part in spring football before it was shut down due to COVID-19. The assumption was, at some point in the months since then, UK had already filed a waiver to the NCAA for Gatewood to be immediately eligible next season
That wasn’t the case, as the school has yet to even file the waiver, according to a report from Josh Moore of the Herald-Leader. Apparently, the fact that Gatewood is transferring within the SEC led to more documentation being needed before a final waiver could be filed, and that paperwork just recently came in.
A UK spokesperson on Monday told the Herald-Leader that it recently received “final information and documentation necessary to properly apply” for a waiver for Gatewood to receive immediate eligibility effective this fall. The school will file that waiver this week.
In addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of Gatewood’s transfer caused a slowdown. Because he transferred within the Southeastern Conference — he attended Auburn the last two years — he had to complete documentation with the league in addition to the NCAA.
It’s mind-boggling that it’s taken over eight months to get all of the paperwork in order to file this waiver (Gatewood committed to UK on December 5th of 2019), but that’s the hand UK and Gatewood have been apparently dealt.
If UK follows through and files the waiver this week, a decision should come from the NCAA within the next two months based on how fast they’ve been ruling on these cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the end, the delay itself probably won’t affect UK and Gatewood. It looks highly unlikely that the 2020 season will start on time, if at all, so an initial ruling should come before next season begins.
Of course, if Gatewood’s waiver is denied, then the school can file an appeal, which could make the process bleed into the theoretical season and prevent him from being the starter, at least to begin the season.
The expectation is Terry Wilson will be the man at quarterback, but Gatewood, who will be a redshirt sophomore, should get a chance to compete for the job. Who knows what Wilson will look like after his horrific knee injury last season, and Sawyer Smith had his own injury issues last season.
There’s absolutely a path for Gatewood to be the starter next season. But first, he must get eligible, a process that won’t be completed for at least another month.