The ruling brings to end a unique situation which saw Williams apply for early entry into the NFL draft after former Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett had won a ruling earlier this year allowing underclassmen with less than three years since their high school class graduation to enter the draft. A maze of legal posturing followed shortly thereafter and Williams soon found himself stuck between college and the NFL with neither entity seeming to do what was necessary to allow him to play.
The Clarett decision was overuled shortly before the NFL draft and Mike later declared that he would attempt to return to USC. The NCAA rules forbid the hiring of an agent, which Mike did in the spring, and a series of meetings were held to determine the proper course for him to attempt a return to the college ranks. Mike eventually enrolled in two summer school classes at USC and worked with NCAA officials on the paperwork to document the repayment of the monies he received during the time period he was eligible for the draft.
Williams worked out with the Trojan team in the early days of fall camp but after a short time Pete Carroll decided not to allow Mike to continue practicing until a final ruling was made in the case. Mike went home to Florida for several weeks only to return last Friday in order to attend the opening of the USC fall semester on Monday. The rumors were rampant in recent weeks as to whether or not the NCAA would let him back in and today the final word was received.
"It's very cold and insensitive for the NCAA to deny him this opportunity," said Coach Carroll in the ESPN interview. "I'm not surprised by it but I'm disappointed for Mike and his family. You'll have to go ask the NCAA for answers."
There has been a lot of speculation as to the ultimate reasons for the NCAA turning him down but there's no denying the timing is awful. The Trojan team found out the news just before boarding the plane for Washington DC and the game with Virginia Tech on Saturday. The decision won't effect the mood of the team too much, they have been practicing without him and were prepared for this scenario, but the situation and the way it was handled seems to leave a lot to be desired if the NCAA is looking to adopt a more "student-friendly" approach, which has been their statement in recent months. Perhaps they will open up and give the reasons for denying his application but chances are we won't be hearing anything in the near future.