Julio Jones, Mark Ingram of Alabama in Limbo as NCAA Continues to Delay Ruling

Jimmy RenoCorrespondent ISeptember 1, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 02:  Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes the ball for 13-yards and a first down in the second quarter against the Utah Utes during the 75th Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

One would think that with major issues going on in places like USC, with possible major NCAA violations in both the football and basketball programs, the NCAA would try to quickly rule on issues that are less important.

That very well may depend upon who you are.

Word first surfaced of a potential issue involving Freshman All-American running back Mark Ingram and Freshman All-American wide receiver Julio Jones back in early summer.

Curtis Anderson, an Athens businessman, had taken the duo on a fishing trip with him over the spring. Mr. Anderson had covered the cost of the trip, which is where the problem began.

The University of Alabama investigated the situation and determined no NCAA rules were violated since Mr. Anderson had no affiliation with the university or its athletic program. The findings were turned over to the SEC office and then forwarded to the NCAA.

''The university is aware of Mr. Anderson and has taken appropriate steps," said a statement from Deborah Lane, Alabama's assistant to the president and assistant vice president for university relations.

''Mr. Anderson is not affiliated with UA. He is not a UA booster, fan or alumnus, and is not a UA season ticket-holder. In fact, Mr. Anderson told us that all of his family are fans of another SEC school."

The problem with the situation is a matter of amateur status for the student-athletes. In this case, if the money is reimbursed for the cost of the trip, that status should be protected.

The NCAA rules at its convenience on these matters and seems to rule quickly in some cases, while not in others.

Recently questions arose on the eligibility of Tennessee freshman tailback Bryce Brown. Brown had some camps that were paid for by sources other than family. That brought into question his eligibility due to his status as an amateur athlete.

The NCAA ruled on the issue, and Tennessee quickly filed an appeal to the NCAA ruling on Brown. 

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin asked for a quick ruling on the appeal matter, and the NCAA complied fairly quickly, ruling that Brown would be eligible and would face no suspension time from games.

"I really believed that they were going to get this right," Kiffin said. "I really spent time explaining who this kid is and what he's about. Obviously this is not a kid that should be punished for something like this."

Obviously, with the opening game for Alabama coming in four days against No. 7-ranked Virginia Tech and with both Jones and Ingram being starters, the University of Alabama has asked for a quick decision as well.

Unlike the Tennessee situation, however, the University of Alabama continues to wait on a ruling despite the nature of the case being fairly simple to resolve.

It's difficult enough to head into an opening game against a top-ranked opponent without having to worry about eligibility issues for two starters. That type of situation only compounds the problem. 

Jones and Ingram certainly should have cleared the trip with the athletic department before going—something they failed to do. But these are young college students who more than likely didn't realize this could be an issue.

With the NCAA there's always the possibility of a delayed ruling on any situation; if you happen to be the University of Alabama, the delay should be expected.

After all, these rulings are so much easier to make when your program resides north, south, east, and west of Tuscaloosa.  


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