NCAA Reinstates Four Texas Players
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The Texas Longhorns began focusing their attention on football again _ namely Saturday’s game against Baylor _ after the NCAA restored the eligibility of four star players who had lunch with an agent.
Despite the NCAA’s reinstatement, receiver Mike Adams, cornerback Bryant Westbrook and safeties Tre Thomas and Chris Carter will not start against the Bears (4-3, 1-3 Big 12), coach John Mackovic said.
He didn’t indicate if the players would see action in the game or how much.
Mackovic has repeatedly criticized the four players for meeting with Boston-based agent Mike George at a luxury hotel on Sunday. The meeting came a day after Texas (3-4, 2-2), for the third time this season, lost a fourth-quarter lead and the game _ this time a 28-24 loss at Colorado.
University officials initially concluded that the players did nothing wrong when they met with George at a lunch arranged by former Longhorns linebacker Winfred Tubbs, now with the New Orleans Saints.
But school officials subsequently received records from the luxury hotel where the meeting took place indicating that, while Tubbs signed for the meal to be charged to his hotel room, George paid for Tubbs’ room.
The players were ruled ineligible by the university on Thursday, pending an interpretation of the matter from the NCAA.
``We accepted from Texas that the kids believed the former player paid for the lunch,″ Bill Saum, an NCAA enforcement representative, said Friday.
``Texas deserves a little credit for taking the extra step of not having those kids starting the game,″ Saum said. ``John Mackovic has been a leader in this conversation about agents for well over a year.″
Student-athletes can meet with an agent, but NCAA rules prohibit them from accepting gifts from an agent or agreeing, verbally or in writing, to have an agent represent them before their eligibility is exhausted.
The players each paid the total value of his lunch _ $30.31 _ to the Neighborhood Longhorns Program, a community service program that provides benefits for at-risk youth, UT officials said.
``I think this emphasizes the integrity of the University of Texas,″ Mackovic said.
``The entire investigation of this case was handled thoroughly and efficiently,″ he said. ``We realized the importance of following the rules, and I think the NCAA respects that.″
Tubbs, who has repeatedly maintained that he paid for the lunch, has been disassociated from the school’s athletic program as a result of the investigation.
Texas players say they can’t afford to be distracted by the off-field commotion.
``We already have a big distraction,″ said Texas nose tackle Chris Akins. ``And that’s that we’re 3-4.″
Mackovic said his team would be prepared for Baylor, with or without the players involved in the investigation.
``We’ll play well, and our players are committed to that,″ Mackovic said.