Famed waiver attorney for college athletes Tom Mars hired by NCAA to work in enforcement

You know what they say: If you keep beating 'em, join 'em. Attorney Tom Mars is joining the NCAA's Complex Case Unit, according to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. Yahoo Sports first reported Mars' move. 

Mars is a name that has become familiar to people who follow college sports closely. He first appeared on the scene in 2017 when he sued Ole Miss on behalf of former coach Houston Nutt, alleging a breach of contract. It was that lawsuit that unearthed actions by Hugh Freeze, who was Ole Miss' coach at the time and led to his resignation. Since then, Mars had become an advocate for players hoping to transfer.

According to Dodd, Mars will not be as an investigator, per se. Sources with knowledge of the situation tell CBS Sports that Mars will be an "independent external advocate" for the Complex Case Unit.

An independent enforcement advocate is the lead lawyer assigned to oversee a case and decide whether further investigation is needed. That advocate will present the Complex Case Unit's findings to the NCAA's Independent Resolution Panel.

Simple, right? For those who haven't kept track, complex cases have become a lot more complex. Cases will start with independent investigators. The independent enforcement advocate will decide if the case moves on. The panel (retired judges, third party members from the outside) will decide the cases. 

Following Freeze's resignation from Ole Miss, Mars helped seven Ole Miss players receive transfer waivers. One of those players was current Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson. Mars also helped Justin Fields gain immediate eligibility after the Georgia QB decided to transfer to Ohio State.

Not every transfer case Mars appealed was a success, including the recent case of Luke Ford, an Illinois native who transferred back to Illinois from Georgia to be closer to his ailing grandfather. The NCAA ruled that Ford wasn't eligible for a waiver since his grandfather didn't live within 100 miles of the school. Mars took up an appeal on Ford's behalf, but it was denied by the NCAA in June.

Mars said recently that he would no longer be handling transfer waiver cases.

The Complex Case Unit was the recommendation of the Commission on College Basketball last year that was led by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The committee will begin operations next month, and it will be a group of external investigators as well as NCAA enforcement staff. The group's purpose will be to handle the more extensive and more complicated investigations of possible NCAA violations.

It will likely be a smooth transfer process for Mars.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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