The football team received some unexpected news Monday when seven football players were declared academically ineligible for the season. The department of athletics reported that five starters and two primary reserves failed to meet NCAA academic standards.
Coach Bobby Wallace said he broke the news to the Owls at a team meeting on Sunday. Wallace, entering his eighth season, said before Monday’s practice that his team will have to be resilient in a situation he said he has “never faced.”
Senior wide receiver Mike Holley, senior running back Tim Brown, senior defensive end JC Braker, junior defensive end David Fatherly, senior strong safety Bobby Fulmore, junior offensive guard Sam McNaulty, and junior cornerback David Reese were the players declared ineligible.
Holley, Brown, Fulmore, McNaulty and Reese were starters on the Owls’ preseason depth chart.
“It’s very difficult at this time to find this information out,” Wallace said. “They’re not all the exact same thing. There are different circumstances for each and every one of them. We’re just going to have to move forward.”
Though Wallace declined comment on individual player situations, the coach said one unnamed player could return later in the season.
“There’s a possibility that [with] one player, a waiver could be filed on his behalf. It’s something I can’t comment on,” he said.
This is not Holley’s first eligibility setback. He missed all of last season under eligibility guidelines, and was to play his first season at wide receiver after making the switch from cornerback two seasons ago.
Brown, who started 10 games in 2004, was the team’s third-leading rusher with 455 yards and two touchdowns. Brown was expected to get more touches this season with the departure of quarterback Walter Washington, who led the team in rushing last year.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.