Senior center Sean Kowal will not return to Northern Illinois University this fall, Kowal confirmed Tuesday morning.
Kowal declined to comment on the reason for his departure. He has asked NIU to release him from his scholarship but has been denied it so far. Kowal will have an appeal hearing at 3 p.m. today on campus with an NIU appeals committee to determine whether or not he will be granted his release.
"I will not be attending NIU in the fall. I have decided not to return there," Kowal said. "I've decided not to say anything until after the appeal hearing [today] up on campus."
Kowal is the fourth player the Huskies have lost from last season's roster that isn't leaving because of graduation. As a junior, the center was NIU's third-leading scorer (10.5 ppg) and leading rebounder (6.4 rpg). He has one season of eligibility remaining.
"Sean's decision not to return for his senior season was definitely unexpected and we're disappointed he won't be back," NIU coach Ricardo Patton said in a statement. "Sean has been with my staff and me for four years, so it's tough to see him step away without finishing his playing career with us. We've always emphasized academics and graduation in our program, so it's good to see Sean will leave Northern Illinois with a degree in hand."
His departure also leaves the Huskies very short on depth in the post. In addition to losing Kowal, NIU lost center Ante Dzepina and forward Najul Ervin to graduation and former walk-on center Michael Fakuade isn't returning either.
With those four out, the Huskies will return two post players with experience in juniors Lee Fisher (4.0 ppg last season) and Tyler Storm (2.2 ppg), though Storm has alternated between small forward and power forward and takes more of his shots from outside the paint. NIU also has incoming 6-foot-6 freshman power forward Nate Rucker and juniors in 6-7 power forward Tim Toler and 6-9 forward Cameron Madlock.
The Huskies also have lost guards Jake Anderson (transfer to Iowa State) and Mike DiNunno (transfer to Eastern Kentucky).