RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper sent a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Wednesday, urging the governing body for college sports to reconsider the recent eligibility decision on University of North Carolina wide receiver Devontez “Tez” Walker.

The governor is stepping in one day after UNC football head coach Mack Brown announced the NCAA denied Walker’s waiver to play immediately this season. The school plans to appeal the decision.

“This is the first time I have taken such an action, but this is an unusual and compelling case amidst the backdrop of all the major changes happening in the NCAA,” said Governor Cooper in a letter sent to NCAA President Charlie Baker. “Nothing could be bigger or more important to Tez than the opportunity to get one of the finest university educations in the country at UNC and to compete in front of his family in Carolina Blue.”

Brown said Walker chose to transfer from Kent State to UNC to be closer to his ailing grandmother, who lives in the Charlotte area. Walker started out at North Carolina Central, but ultimately never played a single snap for the Eagles since the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He then spent two seasons at Kent State, before entering the transfer portal and enrolling at UNC in January 2023.

“This whole experience has been extremely difficult on me and my family,” Walker said in a released statement on Tuesday. “One day, we feel the excitement of being closer to each other. The next day, we’re worried about whether or not I’m going to be able to play. Before, I was dealing with the stress and anxiety of being away from home. Now, I’ve been dealing with those same things through the waiver process and it’s just making things worse. This should be one of the happiest times of my life, and instead, I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m struggling with all of it.”

Before even taking the field for UNC, Walker was named to the 2023 All-Atlantic Coast Conference preseason team and earned a spot on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which honors the best receiver in college football. He was set to make his debut in Carolina blue in the Tar Heels’ season opener against South Carolina in Charlotte on Sept. 2.

Brown said this game marked the first time in Walker’s college career that his grandmother would have been able to watch him play in person.

Click here to read Gov. Cooper’s full letter to the NCAA.