ELIGIBILITY NCAA denies Williams' request to rejoin USC
Mike Williams is now a man without a team.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mike Williams is a terrific wide receiver -- an All-American at Southern California last season who will probably be a standout in the NFL someday.
Right now, he's a man without a team.
Three months after the courts kept him out of the NFL draft, Williams' request to rejoin the top-ranked Trojans was denied by the NCAA.
Thursday's ruling and its timing angered USC officials. The decision was announced shortly before the Trojans boarded a flight. They open defense of their national championship Saturday night against Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
"It's very cold and insensitive for [the NCAA] to deny him this opportunity," Trojans coach Pete Carroll said.
"I fear that the NCAA may have put Mike and USC through this process to make the NCAA appear fair and thorough in their deliberations," USC vice president and legal counsel Todd Dickey said. "It appears that they may have decided long ago that Mike would not play college football again."
The NCAA issued a statement calling such allegations unfair.
"Due to the uniqueness of the case and the complexity of issues, follow up was required in order to provide Mike Williams with a fair and thoughtful analysis," the statement said. "For the institution to suggest that there was a preconceived notion of outcome is patently unfair.
"There were two obstacles facing Mike for eligibility; one related to academics and one related to amateurism, and sports agents in particular. Either one was sufficient to prohibit participation in competition. In this case, neither obstacle could be cleared."
Although it wasn't the outcome he was looking for, Williams reacted calmly and started looking ahead.
"I'm glad it's over. Now the team can move forward and I can move forward," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm disappointed. I did everything asked of me. I don't know yet what I'm going to do. I'll just relax for the weekend and watch the game and root for my team."
Dickey said while the ruling could be appealed, the matter was closed.
"At this point, we don't believe it would be useful to go through those processes," he said. "We think the NCAA has firmly made up its mind."
Williams agreed, saying: "I'm kind of done with it right now."