Cuff story takes a turn

ATHENS – Vance Cuff's long summer journey to the University of Georgia seemed to have ended today, but it may not be complete yet.

Vance Cuff Profile

The true freshman enrolled on campus Monday and was scheduled to be at practice for the Bulldogs' fall camp, which is scheduled to start on August 4th. He was slated to move in with wide receiver Walter Hill today. But that seems to have all changed as of Monday night.

Colquitt County Head Coach Tim Cokely told Dean Legge Monday night that the matter with the NCAA "was not settled yet," indicating that Cuff had not yet been cleared by the NCAA.

A report tonight on the website of the Athens Banner-Herald says that "the NCAA Clearinghouse declared the Colquitt County cornerback does not meet initial eligibility requirements."

Georgia's Athletic Association had no comment on Cuff's situation Monday afternoon.

"I can't talk specifically about incoming players," said Georgia's Compliance Director Eric Baumgartner this afternoon. "The NCAA has said that as long as the student-athlete is accepted by the University that they can come in on financial aid (scholarship) as long as they are taking six hours of classes in the summer."

Baumgartner would not confirm or deny that Cuff has enrolled at Georgia. Nor would he discuss any football player who has enrolled this summer, per NCAA policy.

Cuff's arrival Monday seemed to be a sign that Georgia felt that Cuff would be cleared by the NCAA's Clearinghouse. Cuff would be the first player, Baumgartner said, in his time at Georgia where a student-athlete was admitted into the school and then judged not acceptable by the NCAA.

"We have not run into that, yet," he said. "I am not aware of any of any in the last two years where they have been here in the summer and we have said ‘you are not accepted'"

By enrolling in the summer, however, Cuff is taking a calculated risk. If he does not gain the NCAA's acceptance it is possible that he would have to transfer to a junior college – he would not be allowed to go to a prep school to obtain needed core courses thanks to NCAA bylaws.

That means Cuff will have to somehow get past the Clearinghouse, which had been expected, in order to stay at Georgia this fall and beyond.

"Once they enroll and are on athletic aid they are defined as student-athletes and therefore can't go back to high school and take a course," Baumgartner confirmed. "If they are not accepted by the NCAA Clearinghouse then the NCAA triggers transfer status by definition."

Cuff had the required 3.0 GPA and qualifying test score needed to be eligible, but the NCAA did not allow him to enroll at Georgia in early June. Instead the collegiate organization flagged Cuff's transcripts, which started this messy process.

Colquitt County High School appealed the NCAA's decision to hold up Cuff's eligibility at Georgia due to two of the 14 core courses the cornerback needed and are set for a meeting to discuss the matter tommorow.

"The NCAA needs to do the right thing. It's the right thing for Vance. He's done all we've asked him to do. He should be in summer school in Athens now," Cokely told the Moultrie Observer in early June.

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