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Posted: Friday, February 1st 2002 at 7:28am

NCAA denies Stallworth's request to reinstate eligibility

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EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - The NCAA has denied Tennessee receiver Donte Stallworth's request to have his eligibility reinstated after he changed his mind about entering the NFL draft, school officials said Thursday.

NCAA officials called the university Thursday and said the Student-Athlete Reinstatement staff denied the request.

Stallworth, a junior from Sacramento, Calif., could appeal the decision to an NCAA committee, but university officials said he was waiting to talk to his family before deciding whether he wanted to appeal.

The NCAA did not give a reason why the request was denied, and spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said that information could only be released by the school.

The university expected to receive a letter in the mail in the coming days.

Coach Phillip Fulmer, who was out of town on a recruiting trip, told The Associated Press he didn't know the reasons for the rejection.

``To my knowledge, I don't know why,'' he said. ``I haven't talked to them.''

Stallworth announced he was leaving the university early to enter the draft but changed his mind before the NFL's deadline. The NFL office retrieved his paperwork, eliminating his name from the early-entry draft list.

But NCAA rules stipulate that even the intention to enter the draft results in lost eligibility. To complicate matters, Stallworth met with a Memphis agent and received nearly $1,300 in benefits, including airfare and a dinner, during the hours before he changed his mind. Stallworth said he did not sign an agreement to be represented by the agent.

Stallworth repaid the agent, Jimmy Sexton, using his Pell Grant money, Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey said.

Asked if he thought the benefits from an agent made the NCAA's decision more complicated, Fulmer said he didn't want to speculate.

One point the university hoped would help Stallworth was that he needs just 34 hours to graduate. Stallworth is enrolled at Tennessee this semester.

Fulmer said he wasn't surprised by the news.

``I'm not really surprised by the staff decision. It's sort of the norm that the staff typically says no,'' Fulmer said. ``It's discouraging to me that we have a young man who wants to come back to school and do the right thing. ...That he digged deep in his own pockets to make the reimbursement.''

``We're required by the NCAA to conduct a program in a manner designed to enhance and promote education. It seems to me the NCAA and its committees have the opportunity to do the same thing.''

If Stallworth decides to appeal, it will be heard by representatives from Division I schools on the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee.

If Stallworth opts to not appeal, NFL officials have said his name could be put back on the draft list. The NFL combine is held in February and the draft is in April.

Stallworth missed three games early this season with a broken wrist but finished the season with his best statistics yet. He had 41 catches for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns. In two games, he had three touchdown receptions.
Associated Categories: Sports News

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