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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Mike Williams Got Screwed

As you may know, I've been a proponent of letting underclassmen like Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams enter the NFL Draft even though they've been out of high school for less than the three years required under current rules. Following Clarett's challenge to the rule this spring, a federal court briefly made him draft eligible before that decision was reversed, and in the interim star USC wideout Mike Williams also entered the draft. Since the possibility of going pro was foreclosed, though, Williams intended to return to USC for his junior year. But with USC poised to open its national title defense Saturday night against Virginia Tech, Williams received news that the NCAA was denying his reinstatement.

"At the end of the day, when we stepped back and looked, there was no question he violated the amateurism rule," [Kevin] Lennon [NCAA VP for membership services] told The Associated Press. "He said, 'I want to be a professional, I no longer want to be a college student-athlete.'"

This is a bogus rationale for denying Williams the chance to play another year with the Trojans. At the time that Williams chose to go pro, doing so was a perfectly legal option for him. Of course you drop classes to focus on getting drafted, and of course you hire an agent to help you though the process. It's purely a vindictive outcome, and I guess I should expect nothing less from the clowns running the NCAA.

For the interested, my full case for underclassmen NFL eligibility is here, as is my comment on Williams from back in February, seeing him as vindicating the court decision (which was subsequently reversed).