Webster University women’s basketball junior guard Gwen Williams has been suspended indefinitely from the team for academic reasons. She has already missed the last two games against Greenville College and Fontbonne University, and it is not known if she will be able to return to the team this season.
Williams, a junior college transfer from St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, leads the Gorloks in scoring and is among the top defenders in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. She did not return phone calls seeking comment.
“We really miss the quickness she gives us with her defensive pressure,” assistant coach Jordann Plummer said. “She is a strong leader. Right now, for the time being, we have to play without her.”
Junior guard Maggie Zehner said Williams was a key to the success the Gorloks have had this season, and she plays well both offensively and defensively.
“No one is going to fill Gwen’s place,” Zehner said.
The Webster University student athlete handbook states the rules for academic eligibility: “Students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average to participate in intercollegiate athletics at Webster University. All students who fall under a 2.0 GPA or are on academic probation are ineligible for participation.”
According to Plummer, Williams fell below the guidelines during the fall 2011 semester.
“My understanding is that the rule is a player must maintain a cumulative 2.0 grade point average, and Gwen must have fallen below that,” Plummer said. “She is in the appeal process, and that could take a week or longer. The appeal board can look at different factors — like if she is close to a 1.9 GPA — and the difficulty of the classes. It’s out of our hands.”
According to the handbook, students are provided the opportunity to appeal in writing rulings that affect their eligibility. Appeals are read by a committee, comprised of Dean of Students Ted Hoef, Director of Athletics Tom Hart and NCAA faculty representative Larry Baden. It is unknown if Williams has officially appealed for reinstatement.
“No comment,” Hart said. “We have a policy of not commenting on a student’s athletic eligibility.”
Williams was an All-American junior college player at Florissant Valley for two years before coming to Webster this past fall.
During a Dec. 4 interview with The Journal, Williams said her ultimate goal was to receive a college education and play basketball.
“I am the only one in the family who went to college,” Williams said. “That includes my mother, father, younger brother and two older sisters. My first priority is to get an education and then basketball, in that order.”
Her father, Edward Williams, was unaware of the suspension and said he would look into it.
“I was not aware she was not playing,” Edward Williams said. “I came to see her play at Christmas and her grades seemed fine. I was unaware she was not playing.”