Friday, August 27, 2004

NCAA rules Trojans
WR Williams can't return

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - The NCAA refused to reinstate Southern California All-American Mike Williams on Thursday, leaving the star wide receiver unable to rejoin the top-ranked Trojans after being shut out of the NFL draft by the courts.

"I'm glad it's over. Now the team can move forward and I can move forward," Williams said. "I'm disappointed."

USC vice president and legal counsel Todd Dickey said that although 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.

Williams agreed, saying: "I'm kind of done with it right now."

USC coach Pete Carroll reacted angrily to the ruling and its timing; the Trojans open their season Saturday against Virginia Tech.

"It's very cold and insensitive for them to deny him this opportunity," Carroll said. "I'm not surprised by it, but I'm disappointed for Mike and his family. You'll have to go and ask the NCAA for answers, how they can turn someone down who is academically eligible."

The school had applied to the NCAA for a progress-toward-degree waiver and reinstatement of Williams' eligibility.

Williams, 20, caught 95 passes for 1,314 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns as a sophomore last season to help the Trojans win the national championship.

After a court ruled last winter that Ohio State underclassman Maurice Clarett was eligible to play in the NFL, Williams left USC, hired an agent and said he was turning pro. That made him ineligible to play for the Trojans.

Williams was projected as a high first-round draft pick, but May 24, an appeals court overturned the earlier ruling and upheld the NFL's right to bar players who are less than three years out of high school.

Williams will be eligible for next year's NFL draft.

WISCONSIN: Junior Dwayne Smith, the Badgers' leading rusher last year, will not play for the team again because of a heart disorder.

Smith has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which was discovered during an exam earlier this month, coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. The condition is characterized by an enlargement of the heart and a thickening of the left ventricle walls.

MAC CHAMPIONSHIP: Detroit's Ford Field will host the Mid-American Conference championship game Dec. 2. The game will be televised by ESPN.

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