University of Nevada head coach Chris Ault announced via a statement Tuesday that redshirt junior running back and kick returner Mike Ball has been kicked off the team.
Ault did not elaborate as to what Ball did to warrant being released from his scholarship, only indicating that his leading rusher violated team rules and protocol, leaving the university with little option but to move on.
Ball, who started five of nine games this season for the Wolfpack, had rushed for 704 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the team's career record-holding kick returner, having generated another 1,695 yards in that role.
The sudden suspension comes less than a month after Ball was recognized as the WAC's Offensive Player of the Week. Ball accumulated 216 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns in a 45-38 win over Fresno State on October 22. Of his totals, a career-high 198 yards and a touchdown came on the ground. The other 18 yards came on two catches, including one for a score.
Ball was held out of Nevada's last game -- a 24-21 loss to Louisiana Tech. Had the Wolfpack been able to win they would have clinched at least a share of the WAC title.
Nevada is more prepared to handle the loss of their leading rusher than most. Ault's trademark Pistol offense is being capably run by quarterback Cody Fajardo, who currently has only 69 less rushing yards than Ball. Farjardo has scored 12 touchdowns on the year. Nevada also boasts two other running backs in Lampford Mark (513 yards, six touchdowns) and Stefphon Jefferson (413, five touchdowns) who have also rushed for significant yardage this season.
Listed at 5-10, 215 pounds Ball has the size scouts are looking for but would be wise to consider finding another school with which to play next season rather than leave early for the NFL. He hasn't been able to maintain a starting role with the Wolfpack despite flashing the agility, power and acceleration to spark interest.