University of Texas offensive tackle signee Desmond Harrison is having an "academic issue" that may very well keep him from playing as a member of the Longhorns in 2013.
Update on 8/22/13: Harrison has been deemed eligible to play in 2013, per Mark Rosner of statesman.com
Brigham Young University, which is Texas' second opponent of the 2013 season, is at the middle of this academic issue, so things could get interesting very quickly.
Harrison is being deemed academically ineligible because BYU does not want to count an online course he took with the university in order to become academically eligible to play at Texas.
BYU says the credit doesn't count because it had a policy in place that states student-athletes not from BYU can't take its independent study course. The policy has been in place since 2006, according to a report from Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com, who also reports Harrison is going to appeal BYU's action:
"Desmond Harrison disagrees with the action that we've taken, and he's petitioning that action," BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Tuesday.
When asked when BYU would complete its review of Harrison's appeal, Jenkins said, "I don't think it's going to be a lengthy process — probably this week or next week."
Jenkins said BYU has prohibited student-athletes "from schools other than BYU" from taking their independent study (online) classes since 2006 after an "internal review."
According to the report, Texas is ready and willing to go to bat for Harrison if the appeal doesn't turn out in his favor:
BYU student-athletes can take the online classes and receive college credits that help them remain eligible, and sources tell Orangebloods.com Texas is ready to file a legal challenge to that policy if Harrison's appeal is not successful.
Sources say Texas will be able to show extensive evidence that student-athletes from schools other than BYU have been able to obtain course credit from BYU's (online) Independent Study to help them gain eligibility or to remain eligible since the policy went into effect in 2006.
Sources say Texas also questions BYU's ability to determine what course credits another school (Texas) is able to accept - and how BYU has used its online classes for its own student-athletes.
Having Harrison eligible to compete would be big for Texas. Frankly, if he took the class at BYU and passed it, he should get the credit.
If there was going to be an issue, BYU should have brought it up beforehand and perhaps this wouldn't even be a story right now. Instead, just weeks before the football season, two schools are locked in a power struggle over academic eligibility.
Texas obviously feels strongly about defending the JUCO transfer, as it should. Not only will Harrison be a big player for them at 6'7'' and 305 pounds, but this is also a kid's future we're talking about. Texas has a right to defend that.
To hold this against Harrison would be foolish. Neither Texas nor BYU's long-term future will ultimately be hurt, no matter the result of the appeal.
Harrison is the only one with anything potentially on the line. If he earned the credit, he deserves it.
Harrison was ranked as the No. 1 2013 JUCO offensive tackle, by 247Sports.