Balogun likely done
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
9/22/09 at 6:31 AM
Mike Balogun's future now may be in his own hands.
On Friday, the NCAA informed Balogun and his lawyer that it has determined it will not recertify Balogun's eligibility, which means the University of Oklahoma senior's college football career could be over.
Norman attorney Woody Glass said the NCAA has determined that Balogun did play in an organized, semipro (unpaid) league after his 21st birthday, a finding that Glass has refuted with six sworn affidavits.
Balogun came to OU from Lackawanna (Pa.) Junior College as a linebacker with two years of eligibility. But, for every year he played semipro ball after his 21st birthday, he loses a season of eligibility. Glass said the NCAA determined Balogun played semipro in 2004, '05 and '06 after turning 21.
Glass said OU has filed a final appeal to the NCAA, but he's pessimistic that the decision will be overturned.
"I expect to hear back from them in relatively short order," Glass told the Tulsa World on Monday, "but I am very much not optimistic about what their decision's going to be."
Which means Balogun, who turns 26 on Sept. 28, has a few options to consider:
- He can re-file his Cleveland County District Court civil suit seeking a permanent injunction against the NCAA's decertification. If that's granted, he could continue practicing with the Sooners and could stay in school on athletic scholarship. In all likelihood, however, Balogun would not play in games because the NCAA would appeal the district court's decision, and a reversal in appeals court or in the Oklahoma Supreme Court could mean NCAA punishment for OU, including forfeiture or vacating of victories in which Balogun played.
- If Balogun remains with the team, he might find an opportunity next spring to be at least seen by an NFL team. That probably wouldn't get him drafted, but if the 6-foot-1, 250-pound Balogun stays close to the game and impresses the right people with good workouts and interviews, he could conceivably get a free agent invitation.
- If Balogun asks for and wins a permanent injunction and the NCAA appeals, the process could be a long one. In that case, Balogun might be able to treat 2009 like a redshirt year.
"If we prevail through all levels of the judicial system," Glass said, "then he could redshirt and play next year. Hopefully we could have this heard all the way up through the complete judicial system before the beginning of next football season."
- Balogun could decide he's fought the good fight and simply call it quits.
Glass said he'll discuss "all those possibilities" with Balogun this week.
Glass said the NCAA's decision reflects an apparent disregard for the sworn testimony he produced that supports Balogun's claim he didn't play after turning 21.
The attorney also said he didn't receive any explanation of the Division I Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee's determination of fact, other than "a little two-sentence e-mail that said they sided with the (NCAA Eligibility Center's) position."
John E. Hoover 581-8384