The NCAA has upheld its decision to deny Illinois tight end Luke Ford immediate eligibility for the 2019 season. An announcement on Friday afternoon stated that the Appeals Committee for Legislative Relief denied the appeal based on its guidelines from the original decision.
Ford transferred to Illinois from Georgia at the beginning of the year, citing his desire to be closer to his ailing grandparents; however, in the original appeal, the NCAA reportedly denied Ford immediate eligibility because his grandfather is not part of his "nuclear family." Moreover, the NCAA ruled based on the fact that Champaign, Illinois, wasn't within 100 miles of Ford's hometown of Carterville (it's just under 200 miles). That being said, there are no Division I FBS schools within his hometown.
As such, it would be impossible for Ford to satisfy that requirement for a waiver if he wanted to play Division I FBS football -- which he clearly was good enough to do seeing as he's now on to his second Power Five program.
Ford was a four-star prospect in the Class of 2017 and the top-ranked player in the state of Illinois. He appeared in nine games for the Bulldogs in 2018, catching one pass for 4 yards. He will have three years of eligibility remaining once he takes the field for the Illini.