Matt Bollant’s first recruiting class for the University of Illinois women’s basketball program already has lost one of its six members.
Chicago Marist senior Leah Bolton, who signed a letter of intent with the UI in November, was denied admission after failing to meet the school’s academic requirements.
“I feel really bad for her and the family,” Bollant said Wednesday. “Obviously, we were hopeful with her GPA (grade point average) and ACT (score) that she would be able to get in, but she was denied.”
The Illini coach indicated the denial was based on a low-weighted GPA. A weighted GPA takes into account the degree of difficulty of courses -- particularly core courses like math, science and English -- taken by a college applicant.
With the start of the next academic year a little more than three months away, Bolton now is a player without a team. Bollant -- who guided Illinois to a 19-14 record last season in his first year at the Illini helm -- said he has contacted other programs in a bid to help the 5-foot-11 forward find a new school.
“I’ve called several schools ... many schools in the Midwest and people who have scholarships available,” he said. “So she’s had a lot of calls and lots of people who want her to go (to their school).”
Bollant said he’s also been in regular contact with Bolton’s father to keep him informed of admissions developments and potential future options.
“I’ve called her dad on almost a daily basis,” he said.
Giving the late timing, Bollant said it’s unlikely he will use the scholarship that would have gone to Bolton to sign another player for next season.
He also disputed any implication that Bolton’s denial of admission was linked to the addition of Missouri transfer Kyley Simmons, who will enter the UI following the current spring semester but must sit out the 2013-14 season under NCAA transfer rules.
“We didn’t give (Bolton’s) scholarship to somebody else,” Bollant said.
Bolton was selected to The News-Gazette All-State second team in March after averaging 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds as a senior. She completed her high school career as Marist’s second-leading all-time scorer (1,735 points).
Bollant declined to speculate on what role Bolton might have played for Illinois next season.
“It’s hard to know with freshmen, but certainly she had a lot of potential,” he said.