As you no doubt have heard by now, Oklahoma shocked most observers by announcing that it had added erstwhile Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
It was thought by many that Green-Beckham would be forced to sit out the 2014 season and then, if he decided against an early jump to the NFL next January, suit up for the Sooners in 2015. While that’s still the likely course for both the player and the program, the two sides are looking into immediate eligibility.
Both ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad and FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman reported that a hardship waiver would be pursued that, if approved, would grant Green-Beckham immediate eligibility. Feldman went so far as to tweet that “[t]here is a shot that Dorial Green-Beckham could be eligible for an NCAA waiver to play this YR & I am told #OU will pursue that process.”
We might, though, want to tap the brakes on the optimism.
More than likely, OU and Green-Beckham will appeal for what’s described as a run-off waiver. In a post made earlier this year, John Infante of the Bylaw Blog explained the little-known waiver:
In September 2012, the NCAA Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief adopted guidelines for waivers based on an assertion that the student-athlete was “run off” by their previous institution. The NCAA staff is directed to grant relief in cases where an athlete is ineligible for the one-time transfer exception due to playing a sport which does not have the exception or because it is their second (or more) transfer between four-year schools. The institution filing the waiver on behalf of the student-athlete has to include the following documentation:
– Documentation demonstrating that the student-athlete would not have had the opportunity to return to the previous institution’s team for reasons outside the control of the student-athlete.
— A written statement from the applicant institution that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meets all progress-toward-degree requirements at applicant institution.
— A written statement from the student-athlete’s previous institution indicating that the previous institution supports the request.
And therein lies the issue with this particular tack. Green-Beckham was dismissed from the football team at Missouri following three run-ins with the law and a pair of suspensions. In other words, his dismissal was due to his actions and was entirely within the control of the student-athlete.
Infante did note that there would be a way around that aspect of this particular waiver, but it would involve Mizzou stretching the truth and bending reality:
But the run-off waiver will be a tough sell. Green-Beckham was dismissed from the football team back in April. The comments from Missouri combined with the fact that Green-Beckham was suspended indefinitely just before he was dismissed make it unlikely that his inability to play for Missouri this coming season was “for reasons outside the control of the student-athlete.” Missouri would have to explain away those statements show that Green-Beckham was dismissed not for disciplinary reasons, but because he essentially was not good enough.
If Missouri decided to do that, produced the required documentation, and supported the waiver, I doubt the NCAA would question it. But that might be asking too much from Missouri especially if his dismissal from the team was in fact due to disciplinary reasons. And if he was dismissed from the university in addition to the football team, that would trump whatever Missouri’s athletic department might say.
OU and Green-Beckham are well within their rights to massage the system in an effort to get a very talented player on the field immediately, but this appears to be nothing more than a Hail Mary from their own one-yard line.