Syracuse's Fab Melo ineligible for NCAA tourney

Fab Melo (51) of the Syracuse Orange looks on against the Connecticut Huskies during their quarterfinal game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Syracuse sophomore center Fab Melo has been ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament, another shot in a season full of them for the Orange.

The university announced Tuesday that the 7-foot Brazilian did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh and won't take part in the NCAA tournament due to an eligibility issue. The school did not elaborate.

Melo missed three games earlier this season because of an academic issue and sources told that the recent ruling is related to that suspension .

"The NCAA went back and looked at his schoolwork," one source told "They are looking into the fact that he didn't do some of the work."

It's a big blow for coach Jim Boeheim and his Orange, the top seed in the East, who expected Melo to be a key player in any postseason run. Syracuse (31-2) opens the tournament against 16th-seeded UNC Asheville (24-9), the Big South champion, on Thursday afternoon.

Syracuse is likely to use sophomore Baye Keita and freshman Rakeem Christmas at center in place of Melo, the Big East defensive player of the year.

A message was left by The Associated Press for Boeheim, who was traveling with the team to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Melo averaged 7.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 88 blocks for Syracuse.'s Jeff Goodman says the top-seeded Orange aren't the same team without him.

"I'd like a bracket do-over, please -- and I'm not alone. This 'Cuse team could easily go down early now, maybe in its second game against Kansas State or in the Sweet 16 against a Vanderbilt team that just got done taking care of Kentucky in the SEC tournament championship contest," Goodman writes.

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The news is the latest development in a tumultuous season.

Last week, school officials said the university had more than a year ago self-reported possible violations of its internal drug policy by former members of the team and that the NCAA was investigating. None of the current members of the team was involved.

In a report, Yahoo Sports said a three-month investigation it conducted showed that the Syracuse men's basketball program failed to adhere to the drug policy while playing ineligible players over the past decade.

The report, which citied anonymous sources, said at least 10 players since 2001 had tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The report did not identify who tested positive. Syracuse won its lone national championship in 2003.

And the season began with the dismissal of associate head coach Bernie Fine after two former ballboys accused him of sexually molesting them in the 1980s. While charges have yet to be filed against Fine, he was fired in late November. Boeheim and the university also are facing a defamation suit filed by the ballboys — Bobby Davis and stepbrother Mike Lang.