Howard coach Gary Harrell (Associated Press)
"Ineligible" isn't the iron-clad term it used to be.
College football players don't usually shift from ineligible to eligible in the middle of a game, but that's what happened during a contest between Howard and Norfolk State last week, leaving Norfolk State upset about the situation.
According to a story by the Virginian-Pilot, Howard quarterback Greg McGhee began last Saturday's game ineligible because of NCAA violations. The Washington Post reported in August that 14 players were ineligible because of improper use of textbook allowance money. McGhee was in that group, and the Virginian-Pilot said Howard's website declared McGhee would "be available for the team's game against Savannah State on Sept. 29."
Well, Howard coach Gary Harrell changed its mind about that when McGhee was needed to win the Norfolk State game.
McGhee, last year's MEAC rookie of the year, suddenly was trotting out on the field late in the first quarter when starter Randy Liggins Jr. had back spasms, to the surprise of the Norfolk State coaches and players. The Virginian-Pilot said the only other quarterback on Howard's roster was injured against Rutgers earlier this season. So in came McGhee.
Technically, this was allowed. The Virginian-Pilot said the NCAA ruled it was OK, based on a rule that allows a team to stagger the suspensions of its ineligible players:
According to the NCAA rulebook: "Staggering should be allowed when multiple student-athletes from the same team are required to be withheld and the impact of the withholding condition affects the ability to field a team or creates a potential health risk on the eligible student-athletes due to playing with a decreased squad size."
McGhee led Howard to a win, scoring a short touchdown in overtime to set up what ended up being the game-winning extra point in the 37-36 victory. Norfolk State, which hadn't prepared to face McGhee and had no idea he was going to play, was understandably hot about the situation after the game:
"I'm not going to say much because if I do it's just going to be sour grapes," said Norfolk State coach Pete Adrian, according to the Virginian-Pilot. "I'd be the bad guy and blah, blah, blah. The most political answer I can give is each coach is going to run his program the way he wants to run his program."
McGhee will now miss that Savannah State game he was expected to play in. Unless, perhaps, Howard suddenly needs him to pull out a victory in that game too.
H/T to The Virginian-Pilot
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