Judge Sides With Autry In Rushing Star Vs. NCAA
CHICAGO (AP) _ If Darnell Autry hears the director say ``Roll ’em″ this summer, the Northwestern running back might be risking his chance to roll up more yardage for the Wildcats and win the Heisman Trophy this fall.
Despite NCAA objections, a judge on Wednesday granted the 1995 Heisman finalist a temporary restraining order so he could accept an unpaid movie part this summer in Rome.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from appearing in commercial films. Autry _ a sophomore and theater student _ could be suspended or could lose his remaining two years of eligibility if he appears in the movie and the NCAA later prevails in court, NCAA spokeswoman Kathryn Reit said.
Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Durkin said he expected the NCAA would ``take the high road″ and not contest his decision. He has scheduled an April 10 hearing on converting his temporary injunction against the NCAA into a permanent one.
The NCAA wants to prevent student-athletes from gaining any advantages because of their high-profile positions.
``There are 11,000 or 12,000 member schools who like to see some consistency in the application of the rules and not a carved-out, isolated exception of the rules,″ NCAA lawyer Bedell Tippins said.
Reit said she did not know if the NCAA would appeal. She said an administrative review panel is considering a Northwestern request to waive the rules for Autry. Northwestern has tried since January to convince the NCAA to let Autry act in the movie.
Durkin’s ruling arose from the lawsuit Autry filed Tuesday against the NCAA. The 19-year-old player wanted a decision before Saturday’s deadline for him to accept the role.
``We want Darnell to do what every other student can do _ pursue his major,″ one of Autry’s lawyers, Mike Abernathy, said.
Autry has been offered an unpaid part in two scenes of a supernatural thriller called ``The 18th Angel.″ The movie’s director, William Bindley, planned to pay Autry’s travel expenses and other costs, but would not pay him for acting.
Autry rushed for 100 yards or more in every game last season, and he led Northwestern, a perennial Big Ten doormat, to a 10-1 season and a berth in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1949.