NCAA panel rules Masoli can play today

OXFORD – The NCAA subcommittee for appeals ruled in favor of Jeremiah Masoli on Friday, and the former Oregon quarterback is immediately eligible to play at Ole Miss.
It was the second bit of good news the Ole Miss football program received the day before its first regular season game.
Ole Miss opens its season today at 2:30 p.m. at home against Jacksonville State.
Earlier Friday, the school announced that near-week-long testing of defensive end Kentrell Lockett showed no abnormalities of the heart, and Lockett will be available to play in the Rebels’ second game of the year, next Saturday at Tulane.
Masoli, who was dismissed from the Oregon team in June after his second run-in with law enforcement in six months, had been seeking a waiver of the NCAA’s requirement that transfers maintain residency at their new schools for one academic year before beginning competition.
It’s a waiver that has been granted in previous cases involving athletes who already have received undergraduate degrees. One recent case involves former Ole Miss basketball player Eniel Polynice, who will play at Seton Hall in the coming season.
The NCAA staff did not grant the waiver in Masoli’s case, however, citing the fact Masoli would not have been eligible at his previous institution and that it did not consider his transfer to be motivated by academics.
Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone said the original ruling was not consistent with rulings in previous cases and that he was “more frustrated than angry” when he called the decision “subjective.”
“We knew our case backward and forward, and we knew the rules. I just didn’t get it,” Boone said.
Three days later the subcommittee, made up of athletics directors, school faculty representatives and other such administrators, heard the appeal, and Ole Miss officials were able to state their case on the conference call with committee members. That was key in the group’s decision, and it was a benefit not guaranteed. The school was able to participate at the discretion of the committee chairperson, Boone said.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and Masoli spoke on the conference call.
“This is just great news. It lifts us,” Nutt said.
The school was asked not to discuss specifics of its communication with the committee.
“I appreciate that they were willing to let us participate, which is not always the case,” Boone said. “It’s a complicated issue, and we were able to have a voice in it and sift through some things. It was not an easy decision for them, but it was not an easy case.”
This season will be Masoli’s final one in college football. He played one season at a California junior college and was a two-year starter at Oregon, leading the Ducks to a 20-6 record and appearances in the Holiday and Rose bowls.
Lockett also is back
Lockett spent the majority of the week in Cleveland, Ohio, visiting heart specialists and having tests performed for what had been described as a rhythmic irregularity.
According to the release, Lockett underwent several tests for “rhythms and obstructive changes” that would cause concern.
The tests showed no abnormalities.
Lockett noticed a problem during practice Saturday, told the training staff, and has not been on the field since.
“We feel like that with the technology and doctors in Cleveland, we have determined a good medical plan for Kentrell,” Ole Miss medical director for athletics Dr. Jeff Dennis said. “He will be monitored daily, and if everything goes well, he could return to physical activity on Wednesday, practice on Thursday and the game on Saturday.”
A senior and team captain, Lockett is a native of Hahnville, La., not far from New Orleans where the Rebels will take on Tulane next week.
A preseason All-SEC choice, he has 22.5 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks for his career.
Contact Parrish Alford at (662) 678-1600 or parrish.alford@djournal.com.

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