Boone: 'It was a team effort'

Pete Boone felt all along the system would work. Wasn't totally convinced. But was pretty sure of it.

Friday the Rebel athletics director, along with the Rebel Nation, and, well let's face it, the entire nation, learned Jeremiah Masoli can play football at Ole Miss. Not next year. This year.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said when he heard the news, you might have heard him yelling in Oxford. And he said if you were listening closely down on the gulf coast, you might have heard him all the way to Pascagoula.

Boone may not have yelled that loudly about the verdict, although he might have wanted at times to yell to the NCAA officials. But he didn't. He let the process play out and run its course.

Pete Boone

But only after much homework, legwork, background, research, and double checking of everything had taken place.

Boone credits others immediately for the Rebels having their ducks in a row – no pun intended, Oregon – on this important decision that had been the talk of the sports world since Tuesday's initial decision.

"It was really a team effort," he said of the Ole Miss officials who led the way for the University and for Masoli.

"David Wells (senior associate athletics director for compliance and student services) and Michael Thompson (senior associate athletics director for communications and marketing) put in a lot of thought and hard work, and I just don't know that we missed anything.

"That's because it was a team effort. Not one individual could have done this."

One individual will benefit more than any, and that's Masoli himself. Nutt said the Rebel quarterback was in tears when he heard. It's been a long, difficult road for him to get to this day. Some would blame Masoli himself. Others would take up for him totally. Still others would say he chose the wrong people to hang out with.

At Ole Miss for a month now, Boone said the Masoli he's come to know has been nothing short of an upstanding citizen and a positive influence on others.

"All of my interactions with Jeremiah have been so pleasant and so enlightening to me," he said. "As to the personality of the young man and who he is, I feel better and better about him all the time."

More Boone on situations of dealing with student-athletes.

"We see young men and women come here as freshmen and see them for four or five years," he said. "We see them grow through those years in maturity and all aspects of their lives.

"Of course (Jeremiah) came here with question marks about who he was," Boone continued. "But in a short period of time he has made a positive impact. You do that by working hard and by the way you live your life and by the way you communicate. He is an excellent communicator."

He is also a graduate student at Ole Miss, having obtained his undergraduate degree at Oregon and also leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl earlier this year. The rule that came into question, as most know by now, dealt with being able to transfer from his current college or university to another one for graduate school with football eligibility remaining. School one could not have the same graduate program as school two would have.

Pete Boone

Masoli chose park and recreation management in the Graduate School at Ole Miss. Oregon doesn't offer that. There were other aspects of the entire process the NCAA staff looked into before making its initial decision Tuesday.

Today's decision was from an entirely different committee – those actually in the field of university administration and athletics. People who are associate athletics directors and senior women's administrators. Folks who deal with student-athletes on a day to day basis.

Boone acknowledged the NCAA for its efforts this week.

"I'm extremely pleased with the way the NCAA handled this," he said. "That's why there is a process like this. They accommodated us in every aspect of the appeals process. They were very expeditious in returning information to us, in getting decisions back, and obviously expeditious in granting us an appeal of their (original) decision."

It wasn't the only good news of the day, and Boone acknowledged that. Senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett was cleared to play a week from now against Tulane. He'd spent nearly a week having his heart checked for an irregular beat after having some problems at practice last Saturday.

"These are two good people," Boone said of Masoli and Lockett. "And for these positive things to happen to them, whether they become All-SEC or All-American or not, they're good kids. For them to have the opportunity to go out and compete for this team is something I'm excited about."

And whether he accepts it or not, a lot of credit for the good news on Masoli this day goes to Pete Boone himself. Even message boards, blogs, and tweets are giving him a virtual pat on the back.

"That's nice, but by Monday, that's liable to all change," he smiled and said. "That's the way things go, you know."

On Friday, the way things went for Ole Miss was very, very good indeed.

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