Jerrell Powe’s long, trying wait is over.
After one of the more intensive eligibility fights in recent NCAA history, Powe learned Monday that he’d been ruled fully eligible to practice and play football this season for Mississippi.
Officials at Ole Miss made the announcement upon being notified by SEC officials, nearly three and a half years after Powe first signed with Ole Miss in February 2005.
“It’s just a relief,” said Powe’s attorney, Don Jackson. “This is a young man that has worked as hard as any kid I’ve ever represented, and I’ve represented a bunch. The fact that he’s worked and gotten through this process is a testament to him, to his family and to all the people around him who’ve worked to help him get to this point.”
Powe, a 21-year-old, 6-foot-3, 340-pound defensive tackle, was one of the top prospects in the country when he signed with the Rebels in 2005. He didn’t meet NCAA qualifying standards and attended Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. He re-signed with Ole Miss in 2006, but was again denied eligibility by the NCAA, which said that Powe received too much assistance with his course work.
Last year, Powe attended classes at Ole Miss and was on athletic financial aid but wasn’t eligible to practice or play. The NCAA said he needed to meet NCAA and institutional academic requirements before being ruled eligible.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive was the final one to sign off on Powe’s eligibility.
“We’re sort of in uncharted waters with this case,” Jackson said. “The NCAA, in effect, has created a classification that really didn’t exist, and this has the potential to have an impact on other student-athletes in the SEC.”
Jackson said Powe was essentially admitted to Ole Miss last year under the old partial-qualifier rules — allowing him to go on financial aid, sit out the season and be able to play this season as long as he met continuing eligibility requirements.
But because partial-qualifier status no longer exists and because the SEC doesn’t accept non-qualifiers, Jackson said the responsibility was in effect placed back on the conference as to whether Powe would be eligible. That’s where he said Slive entered the picture.