Freeman hoped to play immediately under an NCAA policy that waives the requirement that transfers sit out a year before becoming eligible, if they transfer in order to tend to family illness or emergency.
Freeman, a Virginia Beach native, played his first two years at Campbell University, but left in order to be closer to his ailing mother, Miriam.
"I'm disappointed," ODU coach Jeff Jones said Tuesday evening. "It's kind of deflating. We've got to look forward and make the best of the situation that we're in. One good thing is that we get Trey this year and he'll be able to help us in practice and in the program, and he'll have two years of eligibility remaining.
"But it's not what we expected or hoped for. It's probably best to bite my tongue. The inconsistency is infuriating. I really don't know what to say, so it's probably best that I say as little as possible."
ODU received the NCAA's initial decision on Oct. 16 and then filed an appeal and asked the governing body to reconsider. The school learned of the final rejection this week.
The NCAA granted a similar request before last season to former ODU forward DeShawn Painter. The Norfolk native played his first three years at North Carolina State, but transferred home to be near his ailing grandmother, who helped raise him.
Painter was the Monarchs' leading scorer and rebounder last season.
The "inconsistency" to which Jones referred relates to recent decisions by the NCAA that granted immediate eligibility waivers to transfers Joseph Young and Josh Smith.
Young grew up in Houston and transferred from the University of Houston to Oregon after his father, legendary Cougar Michael Young, was reassigned from the basketball coaching staff and chose to leave the school.
Smith, from Kent, Wash., began his career at UCLA and transferred to Georgetown. He played his first two years for UCLA and six more games as a junior. Yet the NCAA granted him two full years of eligibility and said that he could play immediately, essentially allowing him to play 41/2 years.
The NCAA decision on Freeman comes after the governing body denied former Monarch Donte Hill a year of eligibility because he participated in a preseason scrimmage his final semester at Clemson.
An NCAA rule states that participation in any sanctioned event — game, exhibition or scrimmage — counts toward a player's eligibility. In Hill's case, eight minutes in a closed preseason scrimmage cost him a final year of eligibility.
Freeman, a 6-foot-2 guard from Kellam, was second-team All-Big South Conference last season and the league's Freshman of the Year in 2012. He averaged 14.3 points and 5.8 assists per game last season. He has been ODU's best player in preseason practice.
"I am extremely disappointed by this news, but excited to be part of the ODU program and the opportunity to be close to my family," Freeman said in a statement released through the school. "My goal this year, now, is to help the team in whatever way I possibly can."
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