Jefferson was in San Diego in June with his friend and teammate, Luke Walton, for the high school graduation of the latter's younger brother, Christopher Walton. Walton's father, broadcaster Bill Walton, had purchased tickets to the NBA finals for his family and they had offered tickets to the family gardener.
The gardener declined the tickets and Walton offered them to his son and a group of friends, including Jefferson. Jefferson and Luke Walton were among a group which attended the first game of the series, which the elder Walton worked as a commentator for NBC-TV.
On that occasion and two others, Jefferson spent time in San Diego with the Walton family. The elder Walton appears to have paid for return travel from San Diego to Arizona for Jefferson, UA compliance director Bill Morgan said.
"Neither Bill, Luke nor I had any notion there were problems with the issue, " Jefferson said. "Luke and I have been friends since before our senior year in high school and have been roommates since our first week on campus," he added.
Arizona senior associate athletics director Kathleen LaRose said the Pac-10 notified UA's Bill Morgan about the issue. Morgan conducted the university's investigation with the full cooperation of Jefferson and based on an interpretation provided by the NCAA, the university declared Jefferson ineligible for the Wildcats' game Saturday.
"We anticipate the NCAA will restore Richard's eligibility for Arizona's next game Dec. 9 at Connecticut," LaRose said.
Jefferson, 20, is the Wildcats' fourth-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. He has started 48 of the 54 games he has played in his two-plus years as a wing forward.