Injured Indiana RB forgot to tell Indiana he’d be wrestling during Hoosiers’ last game

Dr. Saturday

Injured Indiana running back Darius Willis had two choices last Saturday night: Accompany the Hoosiers to Denton, Texas, to look on as they suffered a humiliating loss to North Texas, or head over to the Bloomington National Guard Armory for something called "Infinity Pro Wrestling." Obviously, as reported by the Indiana Daily Student, it really wasn't much of a choice:

Willis said he had long wanted to be around pro wrestling.

"I've just always wanted to be around it, wanted to come watch it," Willis said Saturday after the match. "It was just something I wanted. I always watched wrestling and just wanted to go out and give it a try and see how it is."
Willis stood in a gray IU football cutoff shirt — a white No. 28, his roster number, ironed onto the back. He joined the announcer in the ring when professional wrestler Austin Manix, in a black pair of tights with knee-high black boots, entered the ring.

Manix provoked Willis by calling the star running back out for not playing due to an aggravated knee injury. "I've been wrestling two months with a torn ligament in my left knee because that's what real men do," Manix said. "You, Darius, you're just a little bitch."

Following a brief staredown, Mssr. Manix proceeded to kick Willis and revel in the boos as another wrestler, "PJB" (a real-life friend of Willis') helped Willis out of the ring. Later, Willis accompanied PJB to the ring for the latter's match with Manix, and — during the inevitable "glancing blow knocks ref unconscious" portion of the evening — climbed into the squared circle himself to deliver a flying shoulder tackle that left Manix incapacitated as PJB limped in for the pin and the victory. All of this is on video.{YSP:MORE}

Unfortunately, none of it was cleared with Indiana or head coach Kevin Wilson, who was obviously exasperated by the stunt and admitted Wednesday that he didn't know if it affected Willis' eligibility. (In all likelihood, it wouldn't: He reportedly wasn't paid for the event or for advertising it, and it had nothing to do with football. I'm informed by John Infante of the NCAA's Bylaw Blog that it could conceivably be considered "a promotional activity or outside competition during the year," a minor secondary violation.) At any rate, it probably doesn't matter: With his lingering knee injury, Willis could apply to the NCAA for a medical hardship that would restore his final year of eligibility in 2012, but Wilson told reporters earlier this week that "his career is basically over."

In football, maybe. In the Indiana National Guard Armory wrestling circuit? The sky — or at least Indianapolis' Tyndall Armory — is the limit.

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Hat tip: Adam Rittenberg.
Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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