Center Damontre Harris, who sat out two seasons with the Florida Gators due to NCAA transfer rules and team discipline, will leave the program without stepping on the court and playing a single game.
Harris’s departure was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein but confirmed minutes later by Florida on Wednesday.
A source close to the team told OnlyGators.com last month that Harris gave tremendous effort in practice during the spring semester and was impressing on the court. However, a second source noted last week that Harris reverted to old form when the offseason began, indicating that his time at UF would likely to come to an end before the 2014-15 campaign as he was already missing team activities.
Previously dismissed from the team in December 2013 by head coach Billy Donovan, Harris was having issues off the court that prevented him from doing what was necessary to contribute to the Gators last season.
He was suspended multiple games at the start of the season for a violation of team rules and was also rehabilitating from an injury, which supposedly contributed to him becoming disinterested in maintaining his status with the program.
“The things we were asking him to do weren’t anything out of the norm. But we’d go a week without hearing from him. He wouldn’t return our phone calls or text messages. His teammates didn’t know where he was,” Donovan said at the time.
Donovan reinstated Harris two weeks later. The big man re-enrolled at Florida for the spring semester after completing his fall coursework, and Donovan gave him the opportunity to work his way back into the team’s good graces.
“Damontre Harris is back in school. Right now, he is not playing this year. I’m not going to allow him to play,” Donovan announced in January.
“It could be a great, great story in his life if we can find a way to try to help him. Whenever he gets to practice, if he’s ever able to play here, he knows exactly what he needs to do. … Whether or not he can do it, we’ll see, but he wants to give it a shot. And I figured I’d like to try and help him see what he can do.”
The South Carolina transfer was expected to play a major role for the Gators in 2013-14 as the team looked to advance past the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. Florida accomplished that feat without Harris, who was supposed to serve as the backup center behind Patric Young and be a player that could give UF immense frontcourt depth throughout the season.
The Gators jumped over the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships for next season after accepting a transfer from South Florida C John Egbunu on May 15. Egbunu will not be eligible until the start of the 2015-16 campaign. Harris’s departure puts Florida back at the scholarship mark.
Photo Credit: Associated Press