By John Shinn
For now at least, Oklahoma linebacker Mike Balogun’s eligibility is not a matter for the courts to decide.
Balogun’s attorney, Woody Glass, told The Transcript, a permanent injunction hearing scheduled for Monday was canceled. Glass said he is working on an agreement for the NCAA to re-examine the linebacker’s status outside of the courtroom.
“This puts Mike in the best position to play this year,” Glass said.
The OU player’s amateur status was taken away last week after the NCAA informed OU it was investigating claims Balogun, 25, had played in a semi-pro football league after his 21st birthday. NCAA rules state that anyone who plays in an organized league after turning 21 loses one year of eligibility for every year he played.
Balogun is a senior and his college career would be over if he were to lose a season.
Glass said the critical part of the agreement is getting the NCAA to rule on his status prior to OU’s Sept. 5 season opener against BYU.
“They’ve agreed to reconsider their position on Mike’s eligibility status,” Glass said. “If they certify him, then it’s all over.”
The certification is the critical part. Glass said a big reason why it’s better to resolve the situation outside of the courts is NCAA bylaw 19.7. The rule permits the NCAA to penalize schools that allow student-athletes to play under a court order if that order is later overturned or found to be unjustified.
OU could risk forfeiting games Balogun played in under the rule.
“It puts OU in a situation of having to take the chance that it gets overturned,” Glass said. “I just don’t know what OU would do in that situation.”
Balogun was certified as an amateur by the NCAA prior to enrolling at OU last summer, but the NCAA started to re-examine Balogun’s status this spring after finding new information pertaining to Balogun’s participation in the North American Football League.
He was to have ceased practicing with the Sooners last Wednesday, but Glass received a temporary restraining order a day earlier against the NCAA. Balogun has continued to practice with the Sooners.
“Everyone is trying to work through it, hopefully.” OU coach Bob Stoops said following Monday’s practice. “We’ll see (what happens). I’m not involved with that process.”
Last Tuesday, Glass filed two affidavits — one from Balogun and one from the former owner of the team he played on in 2003 and 2004 — stating Balogun did not play in the league beyond 2004.
Friday, Glass filed three more that seemed to refute evidence Balogun played semi-pro football in 2005.
All the evidence has also been presented to the NCAA.
“I’m hopeful the folks that make the decision carefully look at the sworn testimony we gathered,” Glass said.
But Balogun still has legal options. If the NCAA does not make a decision prior to OU’s season opener, Balogun can still move forward with the lawsuit.
“We can still go back and try to get the permanent injunction,” Glass said.