Dareus To Miss First Two Games

As expected, the NCAA waited until almost the last possible moment to reveal its decision regarding Marcell Dareus. Also as expected, Dareus will miss the first two games of the season. The announcement said that "mitigating circumstances" set the penalty at a two-game suspension rather than four games.

The announcement came Thursday evening from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. Alabama had declared junior defensive end Marcell Dareus ineligible and applied for his reinstatement. Dareus is penalized for having received "preferential treatment and agent benefits" in the form of "airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during two trips to Miami, Florida."

The value of those benefits was placed at $1,787.17, an amount that Dareus must pay to a charity of his choice.

Although the announcement included an appeals process, considering the pace of action by the NCAA that would seem to be fruitless at this late hour. Dareus would remain ineligible during the course of the appeals process.

Alabama opens the season Saturday hosting San Jose State at 6 p.m. CDT. In addition to missing the opener, Dareus will be held out of one of the nation's top intersectional games on Sept. 11 when Alabama hosts Penn State of the Big Ten.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban issued a statement saying, "We respect the decision but we are at the same time disappointed in the suspension. We'll continue to support Marcell as we move forward. Hopefully Marcell and all involved have learned a valuable lesson from this and like I've said before, we will continue to work on establishing stronger legislation in terms of agent and financial advisor guidelines."

Although Dareus started only three games last year, he is a pred-season All-America candidate and on the watch lists for national awards for defensive players. He was selected most valuable defensive player in Bama's victory over Texas in the BCS National Championship Game as the Crimson Tide completed a 14-0 season.

During the 2009 season, he was in on 33 tackles, including nine for losses of 49 yards, and had 6.5 sacks. He broke up two passes and was credited with seven quarterback hurries. In the national championship game, he had a first quarter tackle that knocked Texas quarterback Colt McCoy out of the game, then in the final seconds of the first half intercepted a shovel pass and returned it 29 yards for a dramatic touchdown.

Mike Ward, Alabama's associate athletics director for compliance, issued the following statement:

"We are appreciative of the NCAA's efforts in this matter. It is important to note that Marcell never intentionally violated any NCAA rules and did not knowingly receive any benefits from an agent. Marcell lived up to the letter and spirit of the NCAA cooperative principle and the NCAA described him as ‘one of the most truthful student-athletes we have ever interviewed.' While the institution weighs the decision to appeal, we will continue to pursue all available means to protect our student-athletes and their families from agents and financial advisors willing to compromise or exploit them. We will assist the NCAA, NFL, NFLPA, and any interested state and federal regulatory bodies in their prosecution, regulation, or sanctioning of individuals who disregard legislation pertaining to our student-athletes."

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