The NCAA Subcommittee that held Ole Miss’ appeal this morning on the case of transfer quarterback Jeremiah Masoli wasted little time debating the finer points of a situation that had more turns to it than a day at the local go-cart track.
It took the determining body just a couple of hours to review the material presented—including the explanations given by the NCAA for their original decision—and realize that as much as some may not like the situation, there was nothing in the bylaws that prevented Masoli from expecting and qualifying for the graduate student transfer exemption.
In other words, Masoli can play football for Ole Miss this season.
When combined with the news that team captain and starting DE Kentrell Lockett—who was sent to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio earlier this week for tests related to cardiac arrhythmia—is not facing a serious health issue and should return to the playing field next week.
It is hard to think that the usual party that begins in The Grove a few hours before each game might be starting in just a couple of minutes.
Masoli’s waiver request, its denial and subsequent overturning, have exposed a complicated problem within the NCAA bylaws, and brought to light the amount of room those bylaws give NCAA officials to interpret them as they please.
The NCAA should still have to answer for that; it is in everyone’s best interest if they use the mistakes of the entire Masoli affair to reexamine loopholes that have—well before Masoli ever tried—allowed athletes to pursue purely athletic interests while feigning an amnesty for academic pursuit.
Ultimately, the NCAA error was rendering a judgment that their previous case history proved they had never taken much interest in. If the NCAA wants its regulations to cover the collective spirit in which they were written that is fine and is probably a good thing.
However, deciding without any transparency to do so without a discussion involving its membership or the input of people representing the various facets of college athletics was nothing less than hubris.
It was a dangerous and overly ambitious idea that would have sent ripples through many other parts of the NCAA’s handbook.
As the mounting evidence emerged that exposed the Masoli waiver as both being a departure from previous case history began to combine with the clarion calls from interested parties around the country, it started to become obvious that the NCAA has overstepped its reach in denying Masoli the chance to play football this season.
And it did not take the appeal committee long to reach the same conclusion.
Whether or not Masoli takes the field tomorrow against Jacksonville State is of little consequence at the moment. Masoli will play this season for the Rebels.
The only thing left to stop him are opposing defenses.
Jeb Williamson covers Ole Miss Football as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He welcomes and appreciates all comments. Click here to view his other articles.