SEC Football: Let Jerrell Powe Play, for Goodness' Sake!

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2008

SEC, it's your time to step up.  Do the right thing.

Hopefully, one of the most drawn-out eligibility fights in NCAA history will be over soon.

The Jerrell Powe saga may be coming to a dramatic conclusion later this summer, whether it be tomorrow or late July, at the latest.  But first, let's take a look at where this young man has been.

In 2005, Jerrell Powe of Ole Miss looked to be ready to tackle the SEC.  Then, the five-star defensive lineman ( was declared academically ineligible by the NCAA, because he had not completed 14 core high school courses required to compete in college sports.

The NCAA stood in his way.

Jerrell Powe then attended Hargrave Military Academy for a season and applied for eligibility once again in 2006.  He took correspondence courses to meet requirements.  The NCAA denied him again, questioning how much assistance Powe received while trying to complete his courses.

2007, gotta be the year right? Notta.  The NCAA then ruled that they are concerned about Powe's well-being while combining college and athletics. 

The NCAA ruled that Powe will be allowed to receive athletically related financial aid to attend classes. However, he will be ineligible for practice and competition until meeting NCAA and institutional academic requirements in college.

Are you kidding me?  At that point in time, Ole Miss fans and myself were about to explode with anger.  The kid's doing everything he can and now, with all that's happened, you look at his transcripts which seem to be fine but still question his ability to excel in academics and athletics.

Well, guess what?  Powe has proven the NCAA wrong.  Powe has attended this year at the University, and with reports coming out, he has a rumored 2.8 GPA, maybe not the exact total, but from coach Houston Nutt and Athletic Director Pete Boone, he has passed. 

Guess what, NCAA?  You were wrong.  Jerrell Powe can pass a year of school.  I know, I know, your argument was that Jerrell Powe couldn't do football and athletics.  He looks to prove you wrong again.

I have fans now saying, "He's now been out of football for three years, what makes you think he's still any good?"

While Jerrell Powe was still pleading his case to the NCAA in 2007, the NCAA gave Powe a waiver to practice with the team until they reached a decision.  After just a couple workouts, Powe had been promoted to the first-team defense.

If you check out the defensive line for Ole Miss this season, you see two projected first round NFL Draft picks and unanimously the strongest core of the team.  Point proven. 

Now, if you had been willing to guess, the ball is not in the NCAA's hands.  They've definitely had their share of the story, and it seems to me from a one-sided perspective.

If he had been at a favored NCAA institution, he would've already been on the field (just my opinion, due to the inconsistent reasons for his ineligibility by the NCAA).

The ball is now in the hands of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

Now, since Jerrell Powe has met the NCAA requirements to play football, he must tackle another obstacle by gaining the SEC's academic requirements, which happens to be one of the toughest conferences to qualify. 

Back to the first sentence of the article, SEC, it's your time to step up. 

With the SEC, they generally require if you don't complete your necessary high school requirements, you must either 1) graduate from a junior college or 2) complete coursework from prep school.

Powe has done neither (I'll debate No. 2, although the NCAA denied that).

During the SEC summer meetings, a new rule was proposed that the SEC should allow non-qualifiers that choose to attend school for a year and complete a year of coursework to gain eligibility (just as Powe did, call it the "Powe" rule if you choose).

An SEC official would not comment on a timetable as to when the SEC was to rule on Powe or not.

The chancellor of the University of Mississippi, Robert Khayat, met with's David Brandt and had this to say about Jerrell Powe and the SEC:

"What I do know is that Mr. (Mike) Slive is a good and fair man," said Khayat last month. "If (Powe's) met the NCAA requirements, and people say he has, then I expect the SEC to rule him eligible."

I agree with you, Khayat, if Powe has met the NCAA requirements and done everything for himself this season to play, why not declare him eligible?

What a public relations disaster this story could be if the SEC were to deny him.  I can see the negative media reports now.  Here you have a man who has completed a year of college, done everything he could to become eligible by NCAA rulings, and is again denied.

However, I expect to hear great news in the coming weeks, whether it be tomorrow or late July, that Jerrell Powe has qualified by SEC rules and is declared eligible. 

Mike Slive, prove Khayat right.  Be the good and fair man and declare Powe eligible.  Now. 


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