Because some new certifications were anticipated, the compliance office preferred not to identify the freshmen in question just yet, nor obviously the athletes already certified. And the expected clearances did not involve any serious questions about freshman eligibility, but simply involved the clearinghouse's detailed and often tedious process that is usually bogged down by missing paperwork to be provided by the student-athlete's high school.
In other words, the compliance staff was not anticipating any late issues with several of the remaining un-certified young men. "It's just some things that need to be clarified from the high schools on five of them," Hill said. "It's not like we have problems, it's just getting their stuff (i.e. transcripts, test scores)." If all goes on schedule there should be 19 true freshmen in summer school by Friday at the latest. Another, Keith Fitzhugh, has been in school since January, and junior college transfer Antonio Johnson does not need clearinghouse approval.
Three others are not expected to clear, as previously reported though not officially confirmed by anyone at MSU: Jessie Bowman of Brookhaven, Miss; Louis Ellis of Jackson, Miss.; and Tim Holloway of Seminary, Miss. Their plans for 2005-06 are still being settled, whether they plan to attend junior college or a prep school.
This leaves a pair of Coach Sylvester Croom's February signees on the borderline, and while the compliance staff won't yet identify them specifically it is widely known that Anthony Johnson of Jackson, Miss., and Archie Sims of Laurel, Miss., are close to meeting entrance standards but not there yet. "At this time only two really have issues as far as for-sure not qualifying," was Hill's comment.
Of course any freshmen not certified for the second summer semester (July 8 is the last day to register) can still be cleared in time for the fall semester and 2005 season. Croom has set August 3 as reporting day for all eligible and enrolled Bulldogs, with practices starting the next day. Newcomers and varsity all report and begin work the same time now as the NCAA did away with freshman-only practices two years ago.
Fall classes begin August 18 with August 24 the last day to register.