Posted by Adam Jacobi
Is Jeremiah Masoli playing fast and loose with the sequence of events that led him out of Oregon? You might recall that when Masoli was initially denied eligibility with Ole Miss until 2011, the NCAA cited the fact that Masoli had been kicked off his own team, and that the waiver wasn't designed to let players escape their pre-existing disciplinary woes. It seemed like pretty sound logic at the time.
And then upon appeal, Masoli was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA shortly thereafter, and we were left to wonder whether the NCAA just made the mistake of not specifically mentioning pre-existing eligibility issues in their transfer waiver guidelines. It seemed rather un-NCAA to do so, but what other explanation could there have been?
But as it turns out, Masoli's successful waiver appeal happened because, as Masoli insists, he was never actually dismissed from the Oregon team. Sound weird? Indeed, but here's Masoli's argument to the NCAA during the appeal process (emphasis ours):
Masoli wrote that Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended him in March 2010, and that he had the option at that point to transfer to another school. “I realized that other players had been suspended for a season and allowed to play after a few games,” Masoli wrote, likely referring to LeGarrette Blount, who was initially suspended for the 2009 season by Kelly but was reinstated by the end of the year. “Therefore in my mind, playing in the 2010 season was still a possibility.”
But Masoli then said he “was no longer comfortable at Oregon and believed it would be in my best interest to leave.” In late May, Masoli said he decided to transfer “without really knowing where I would go.” Masoli wrote that he notified Kelly of this and that Kelly said he would be given a release. Masoli said he received a release from Oregon on June 8 — and that on the next day, Kelly announced his dismissal from the team. “I was surprised about the announcement because we had already agreed that I was not returning and would be transferring,” Masoli wrote. “The announcement was made because I had been stopped for a driving infraction. However, I had already made my decision to transfer and had received my release prior to this announcement so the dismissal announcement was not really a factor in my leaving.”
It's slippery logic, but clever all the same. If Masoli was already gone, then the subsequent legal trouble was Houston Nutt's business, not the NCAA's. So the thinking goes.
Of course, as Dr. Saturday points out, Oregon disputed the timing of Masoli's account and said Masoli didn't quit first. In a rare fit of charity, Oregon supported Masoli's waiver claim anyway, because whatever.