Air Force’s Welch Granted Medical Turnback; Ninth Semester
After undergoing two surgeries in the last three months, Air Force men's basketball player Nick Welch has been granted a medical turnback for this semester by the Air Force Academy and will not play during the 2005-06 season.
Welch, who had surgery for a broken left foot in July and another in September to repair a tendon in his left ankle, has out-processed from the Academy for the remainder of the semester and will return to classes in January. He was also granted a ninth semester by the Academy for academic and military reasons, as he has missed significant time in both areas due to rehabilitation from this and three other surgeries during his career.
According to NCAA rules, student-athletes have five years to complete their athletic eligibility. Therefore, Welch will be eligible to play for the Falcons in the 2006-07 season.
"This is the right thing to do for the Academy and for Nick," said Air Force Director of Athletics Dr. Hans Mueh. "He has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and has been a model cadet in every area. By allowing him to make a full recovery, he will be able to graduate from the Academy and be commissionable in the United States Air Force. Nick will make a great officer in the Air Force and this will give him the best opportunity to fulfill that goal."
A cadet can be granted an administrative or a medical turnback. A medical turnback involves a cadet suffering from a temporary disqualifying medical condition that can be completely resolved within two semesters away from the Academy. A request for medical turnback is typically not cadet initiated. Instead, if the Cadet Medical Evaluation Board determines that a cadet is qualified for medical turnback, the board forwards the recommendation to the 10th Medical Group, Command Surgeon. The final decision is made by the Academy's Superintendent.
Welch, who was recently named to this year's preseason all-MWC team, finished second on the team in scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 12 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He finished in the top 10 in the MWC in steals (7th), assists (8th) and 3PT% (8th) and helped the Falcons to their second-best record (18-12) in school history.
Welch, a 2004 honorable mention All-America selection, has had three surgeries on his left knee while at the Academy. He missed the first game of the 2003-04 season after arthroscopic surgery on the knee in August of 2003, and had the knee scoped each of the last two off-seasons.