In this Nov. 18 photo, Cameron Rodriguez, second from left, celebrates with Thunder mascot Rumble, left, after hitting a halfcourt shot to win $20,000 during the game between Oklahoma City and the Denver Nuggets in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo)
OKLAHOMA CITY — A college basketball player who won $20,000 by hitting a half-court shot during an Oklahoma City Thunder game can keep the money for use as a scholarship, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Tuesday.
Cameron Rodriguez nailed the promotional shot Nov. 18 during the Thunder’s home game against the Denver Nuggets. The jubilation was short-lived after the NAIA informed Rodriguez that if he kept the money, he would lose his amateur status at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.
The college appealed, and the NAIA said Tuesday that Rodriguez could use the half-court winnings as scholarship money.
“We’re pleased with the decision from the membership and specifically the (national eligibility committee) that allows Cameron to keep his winnings to use toward his education,” said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO.
The NAIA said the decision to use the prize as scholarship money was a joint recommendation by Rodriguez and the Southwestern College athletic department, which was supported by the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Rodriguez, a sophomore, must maintain his amateur status throughout the remainder of his eligibility. He’s said that he would have forfeited the money before giving up his college eligibility.
Eight lucky fans have hit the half-court shot, sponsored by a local bank, in 231 home games since the promotion started, according to the Thunder.