NCAA ruling defies logic

The case of Tennessee football signee Gerald Williams clearly demonstrates the inconsistent and arbitrary nature of decisions made by the NCAA. And once again, the defensive end from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., has been left in limbo regarding his college eligibility.

Williams is a May 2005 graduate of Boyd Anderson High School. But on the sliding scale, his grade-point average and standardized test score left him just shy of being eligible to enroll at a four-year school.

Williams took a sociology course at University High in Miami, a school that has since been targeted by the NCAA as a diploma mill. The course was initially accepted by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Williams eventually made an ACT score that made him eligible earlier this year.

But then, the NCAA recently ruled all classes taken at University High would not count, thus, Williams' GPA dropped slightly, making him academically ineligible again.

What frustrates Williams and UT is that several players – including Tennessee's Demetrius Morley – graduated from University High and are now attending four-year schools and free of NCAA eligibility scrutiny. But if you took classes from University High and didn't enroll in a four-year school last year, you're being punished because the NCAA is rescinding approval of those classes retroactively.

Why would the NCAA steer clear of student-athletes already enrolled at Tennessee or Auburn or North Carolina State, and pick on a player who wasn't eligible to enroll last year? Didn't Williams do the same thing as Morley and a handful of others? Is it fair to approve University High classes for some athletes but not others?

Or course not. But that's the NCAA.

Gerald Williams has retaken the ACT in hopes of scoring high enough to be declared eligible. He will know in a couple of weeks. If he doesn't make it, Tennessee will file documents with the NCAA appealing the Clearinghouse decision.

Good luck.

While the NCAA seems more student-athlete friendly on some issues, it hasn't been so friendly when it comes to academic eligibility. And predicting what the NCAA will do is harder than predicting how many first downs Tennessee will make against Florida.

Speaking of Florida, it was the Gators who cried foul over diploma mills like University High. Yet, it was Florida that was trying to take advantage of University High.

One source close to the situation said Florida steered Williams and Morley and several other high school prospects to University High to gain their college eligibility. But when Ron Zook was fired as Florida's coach, several players de-committed to the Gators and signed elsewhere.

Feeling burned, Florida reported University High as a diploma mill.

Interestingly, Florida has had a player on its roster from University High – Dan Guthrie, who later transferred.

Meanwhile, Williams' future is left in the hands of a governing body that has more mood swings than a pregnant woman.

You would hope the NCAA would get this one right and realize Williams has been punished enough by missing last season. Don't make him miss another.


Tennessee signee Dustin Lindsey of Alcoa did not qualify and is headed to Hargrave Military in Chatham, Va.

Vol signee Brent Vinson of Hampton, Va., has yet to qualify. He took the ACT on Saturday and he's got one more shot at the SAT. If he doesn't qualify, he likely will attend Hargrave.

Each of UT's other signees are expected to be eligible, although several still must be approved by the Clearinghouse.


Central Florida didn't have a tough time deciding to cancel its game next season at Tennessee. The buyout was only $10,000.

The agreement, signed at least five years ago, called for Central Florida to make $500,000 with a small cancellation fee. The deal was struck by former UT athletic director Doug Dickey and former Central Florida athletic director Steve Sloan.

When Central Florida moved to Conference USA, it said it needed to clear a date for a conference game in 2007. By the way, Central Florida will host Texas next season in the Knights new stadium.

Louisiana-Lafayette will replace Central Florida on UT's 2007 schedule and the game will be played Nov. 3, leaving Sept. 29 as an open date. UT will pay Louisiana-Lafayette between $600,000 and $800,000.

Thus, Central Florida's ability to buy out of the contract for a mere $10,000 will cost UT between $90,000 and $290,000.

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