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UT: NCAA decides DE Williams still ineligible

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NCAA decides DE Williams still ineligible

Two other players out for academics


Staff Writer

KNOXVILLE — Gerald Williams' odyssey has ended in disappointment yet again.

Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer announced Wednesday that the 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., had not been cleared academically to play for the Vols this season.

Williams didn't score high enough on his most recent SAT attempt after having an earlier test score flagged because he made too big a jump.

Fulmer said defensive back Stephaun Raines of Dalton, Ga., and offensive lineman Cody Pope of Julian, Calif., also would not be eligible this season after falling short academically.

The issue with Raines was a class on his high school transcript; Pope's problem was his standardized test not being validated.

That's despite Pope attending the entire second session of summer school at UT and opening preseason practice with the Vols.

He was pulled off the practice field last week, though, and will now have to head back to California.

"We're still looking at any appeals processes that are out there," Fulmer said. "Obviously, we're under a significant time restraint with Friday being the last day of drop and add.

"We're going to look at all the options, whether it's prep schools, junior colleges or staying at home and continued improvement of the academics."

Of the 22 players in the Vols' 2006 signing class, eight now either have failed to make it academically or have been dismissed from the team.

Williams' year-and-a-half plight has been especially frustrating for Fulmer and the Vols' staff. Williams first signed with Tennessee in February 2005 and actually practiced some last August before being sent home after an issue arose with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Williams had to forgo the credits he received at the now defunct University High in Miami, which showed up on the NCAA's banned list of "diploma mills."

Fulmer, who's blasted the whole Clearinghouse process in the past, did his best to hold back Wednesday after practice. That's after having an animated conversation on the practice field with UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton.

"Don't get me started on the Clearinghouse, OK?" Fulmer said. "It's not one of my favorite subjects. They're supposed to be player friendly …

"But not always the right answer comes out of that, in my opinion."

Fulmer said he talked briefly Wednesday with Williams, who was naturally disappointed.

"It's not 100 percent over for Gerald," Fulmer said. "I don't know what all can be done, but we're sure going to see. He deserves that."

Hamilton said he thinks losing so many football signees this year to academics was an aberration.

"The institution is going to be looking at more things," Hamilton said.

"Obviously, the NCAA is going to be looking at more things because the issue has been highlighted over the last 12 to 18 months.

"I'd like to think that it's not a trend item, though, but just something we've had to deal with this year and not something we'll have to deal with regularly."

If I am a Vol fan, I would be very afraid of that TOO HIGH score...But that's just me.

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If I'm a Vol fan high test scores are unheard of as in whimsical stories…like tales of leprechauns and unicorns…..and a mouth full of teeth.

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Yeah, I would be worrying too if I was a UT fan. Be interesting to see if an investigation reveals what we all think is going on here.

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this is getting ridiculous. the ncaa needs to do something to make this less complicated and nerve-racking for the players. having this crap go on and on and on, even into the semester is not right.

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