Hugo Gonzalez Intends to Resurface in NCAA After Leaving VT for Spain

Spanish record holder Hugo Gonzalez intends to head back to the United States and resume school and swimming in the NCAA. Gonzalez spent the 2017-18 season, his freshman season, with Auburn, but since left for Virginia Tech, where he stayed for a few weeks and then went home to Spain.

News site El Pais reports that Gonzalez has applied to both Cal-Berkeley and the University of Florida, where he hopes to start taking classes in January for the next semester. El Pais also hints that Cal would be his top choice.

In June of 2018, the former Auburn swimmer had been announced as a transfer to Virginia Tech, where he’d assumedly finish out his three remaining seasons of eligibility and follow his coach Sergio Lopez, who left his associate head coach role at Auburn for a head coach position at VT. Just a few weeks into his first semester at VT, however, Gonzalez left the school and returned to Spain, with it being unclear if he was planning on ever swimming or taking courses in the U.S. again.

Now, though, Gonzalez says that he’s waiting to hear back from Cal and Florida to potentially start studies in January, though it’s unclear yet if, should he be accepted and can start taking classes in January, he will be swimming as soon as next semester.

Either school would be very excited to have Gonzalez on their roster, considering his best times. He was 3:35.76 to win the 2018 SEC title last year and 1:40.67 for 2nd behind only Caeleb Dressel in the 200 IM at SECs, while he’s also a phenomenal backstroker (46.24/1:39.05 in SCY, 54.1/1:56.6 in LCM) and breaststroker (1:53.98 in the 200y). Additionally, he was 47.12 fly and 1:34.79 free last February at the Auburn Invite, which happened two weeks before SECs.

For Cal, should this all work out, this could be the boost they need to push them past Texas. It’s inevitably going to be a very close meet again, but having a star like Gonzalez on the roster may just be enough to hold off the Longhorns’ diving points. Additionally, should Gonzalez contest the 400 IM (very likely), that could give Andrew Seliskar more assurance to do the 200 free, where he is a probable bet for 2nd place and a potential upset to the favorite Townley Haas of Texas.

That said, Gonzalez gained time in all of his events (including over ten seconds in the 400 IM) at NCAAs last season, though he did still score in the 200 IM B final. Additionally, Gonzalez had the 2018 Spanish National Champs just a few weeks after NCAAs, where he won the 200 IM title and set a new Spanish record with a 1:58.03 in LCM; perhaps he was saving his peak for that meet, which was a qualifier for 2018 Euros.

In any case, Gonzalez is seeking to finish his undergrad education at either Cal or Florida, with his eyes set on the Berkeley. As to when he’ll be able to compete, should he get accepted, it’s fuzzy. He transferred from SEC school Auburn to ACC school VT, but ended up leaving. His transfer to Cal, a Pac-12 school, doesn’t seem to pose an issue, but he may potentially see some sort of penalty if he ends up at Florida, an SEC school like Auburn. It gets tricky, though, when considering he last competed for an SEC school, but last attended an ACC school (for a very short amount of time). Regardless, SwimSwam has asked for clarification and will update this article with any further insight.

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2 years ago

So does his transfer to VT technically count even though he never competed for them? If so, I believe his transfer to Cal, though not within conference, would still require him to sit out due to it being his second Div I transfer. Anybody have some clarification on this?

NCAA rules
Reply to  STRK
2 years ago

He should have to spend a year in residency (sit out a year) with a 4-4-4 transfer rule in place (transferring from one 4 year institution to another, to another) so long as he started and attended classes in VT. Now, of course, there is waiver process that he could appeal to but the odds on that would seem slim since he transferred to VT to follow Sergio (presumably) so it would have to be something pretty stunning for it to get approved (in my opinion). If enrolled in the spring, soonest he could compete would be spring 2020 with 3 seasons (2.5) years of eligibility remaining (as long as he didn’t defer enrollment to start at Auburn)

Rick Paine
Reply to  STRK
2 years ago

Everything hinges on whether his transfer to VT actually counts. If he went to a practice or attended one class then it triggered his transfer. If he didn’t, he should be eligible for Cal right away along as he is academically eligible to return to Auburn. For Florida it will depend on the SEC rules which supercede the NCAA rules.

The transfer is not triggered unless he practiced with the team or attended a class.

The Weez
Reply to  STRK
2 years ago

An article posted yesterday addressed this very thing, well, almost…
“An old rule that is still in effect is the one-time transfer rule. The swimmer is only allowed to transfer to another D-I program once.”

I have no idea how this “old rule” applies is a student transfers to another D1 program but never competes for them? Does utilization of a scholarship (assuming he took one when he transferred to V-Tech) “count” as having formally been on the team…or is it based on having actually officially competed for that second school? Or maybe it’s just that cut-and-dry ~ one transfer only, and the above qualifiers have zero bearing?

Reply to  The Weez
2 years ago

We’ve actually checked in on the NCAA with this (with the help of Rick Paine of ACC recruiting, who wrote the article you referenced), and the tests are: 1) did he attend practice? and 2) did he attend class? We’re trying to find out the exact answers to those questions. It seems as though Sergio’s comments indicate that he did not attend practice, and the timing of the departure makes it seem as though he didn’t attend class. In that case, he’d be eligible right away. Otherwise, he’d have to enroll at Cal or Florida, take classes for 2 semesters, and then be eligible January 2020. There’s more detailed rules to it, but that’s the ‘big picture’.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Thanks for this update, Braden….with regards to your statement of eligible date after taking classes for two semesters, were you intending to say Jan 2020?

Reply to  Swimminisgood
2 years ago

I was – thank you.

Foreign Embassy
2 years ago

If he ends up at Cal then those Texas diving points are a wash 😜

2 years ago

clearly didn’t want to swim for Sergio again…

ct swim fan
Reply to  Hmmm.....
2 years ago

Your statement makes zero sense. Why would he ever transfer to Va Tech then? He could have just stayed put at Auburn, gone back to Spain right away or applied to Cal and Florida instead of following Lopez to Va Tech. Try again.

Reply to  ct swim fan
2 years ago

So then he didn’t want to live in Bleaksburg

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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