Florida State, which dealt with similar issue, notified OU about Balogun
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
8/20/09 at 1:46 PM
Related Story: Balogun sues NCAA over eligibility
Linebacker Mike Balogun's eligibility — decertified by the NCAA last week, now awaiting a court's ruling from a restraining order he filed this week, and in limbo beyond that — was originally called into question by a member of Florida State University's compliance department.
Balogun, who on Tuesday sued the NCAA in Cleveland County District Court for the right to keep playing, was certified eligible by the NCAA in May 2008 and enrolled at OU after two years at Lackawanna (Pa.) College. He played in 10 games last season, and even started against Florida in the national championship game on Jan. 8.
After Balogun made a second-quarter tackle, Fox Sports commentators detailed part of Balogun's story — that he didn't play football his final two years of high school, that he graduated and worked in the construction business, among others, to care for his infant daughter, and that he later played in what has been described as a semi-professional football league.
By the time OU played Florida, Balogun's tale already had been publicized over and over. He first detailed his story in an interview with the Tulsa World in August 2008, and later gave interviews to several newspapers and other media outlets.
"I knew I was capable of playing big-time football, but Oklahoma is even bigger than what I was thinking," Balogun told the World last year. "So it's a dream come true."
But according to court documents obtained by the Tulsa World, a Florida State compliance officer suggested in a on Jan. 9 e-mail to the Big 12 Conference that the league check into Balogun's eligibility.
The query was made because an FSU player, Corey Surrency, had been decertified by the NCAA and denied another college season after it was discovered that, following a prison sentence, Surrency played in an organized flag football league after his 21st birthday, then enrolled at a California junior college and eventually landed at FSU. Surrency and FSU appealed, but in May, the appeal was denied, and Surrency's career ended after one season.
Later on Jan. 9, OU compliance officer Jason Leonard received an inquiry from the Big 12. Leonard replied to Big 12 assistant commissioner Lori Ebihara that Balogun's eligibility had already been established, and Ebihara stated in her reply that the Big 12 was "satisfied" with Leonard's findings that Balogun had played for the Maryland Marauders when he was 19 and 20, but not 21.
However, OU determined during a subsequent investigation that Balogun might have played after his 21st birthday, which would cost him a year of eligibility and could be harmful to Oklahoma. OU gave that information to the NCAA, which conducted its own investigation and decertified Balogun.
Document: Download the petition in the case.
Document: Download the temporary restraining order in the case.