Jerrell Powe’s Long Road

Here are some of the milestones and moments on the long road to eligibility for Jerrell Powe.

———- 2005 ———-

January – Powe began working with a tutor, Ginny Lee Crager, a special education teacher and reading specialist at Wayne County High. She was asked to get involved by WCHS head football coach Marcus Broyles.

March – Crager suggests that Powe take some independent study classes on line, programs set up by Brigham Young University in Utah.

August – Powe is declared ineligible to play at Mississippi by the NCAA Eligibility Clearinghouse. To qualify for admission and participation a so-called student-athlete must have at least a 2.5 grade point average in 14 core classes, such as English, math and science, plus a score of at least 17 on the ACT college entrance exam. There is a sliding scale that adjusts for lower or higher GPAs, along with lower or higher test scores. Powe was ruled ineligible because he did not meet the 14 core courses requirement.

August – Powe enrolls at Hargrave Military Academy, in Chatham, Virginia.

———- 2006 ———-

February 1 – For the second time, Powe signs a letter of intent to play at Ole Miss.

April – Powe retakes the ACT test and raises his score from 12 to 18. He scored 22 in reading comprehension when he had the test read to him, rather than having to read it himself.

May – Powe finished taking 14 correspondence courses on line from Brigham Young University. Each course, ranging from geometry to reading comprehension is worth one-half credit. He finished the courses with grades of four A’s, nine B’s and one C.

August 26 – NCAA Clearinghouse rules Powe academically ineligible. Officials expressed concern about the amount of BYU correspondence course work completed by Powe in the given time frame. The NCAA goes so far to release a statement with its decision. “The NCAA stressed it is concerned about Mr. Powe’s long-term well-being and that he has not yet demonstrated he can successfully manage the demands of full-time college academics and intercollegiate athletics,” the statement said. “Among its concerns, the group noted there was insufficient information provided to the NCAA to determine that Mr. Powe completed the work on his own without significant assistance.”

Tutor Ms. Crager reacts angrily to the NCAA’s charge that Powe received too much help, or that someone else did the work on his correspondence courses: “There was no cheating. There was no too much. There is never too much with a child in school. You can cheat on the Internet, but Jerrell didn’t do that. He was right in front of me.”

August 29 – Powe filed suit against the NCAA and the University of Mississippi for their refusal to grant him eligibility. The suit requested the court immediately step into the matter and asked for a restraining order allowing Powe to enroll at Mississippi.

August 31 – The Chancery Court in Lafayette County, Mississippi, issues a restraining order against the NCAA and the University of Mississippi, lifting their block of Powe attending school.

September 1 – Powe is admitted to Ole Miss as a part-time student taking 12 or less credits. He will not take part in any football related events until his appeal is heard.

September 7 – An NCAA review panel meets to review the University of Mississippi’s appeal of its ruling on Powe’s eligibility.

September 16 – Powe announces he’s withdrawing from Ole Miss and that he plans to drop the lawsuit he filed against the school and NCAA. “Although my attorneys are convinced I have met NCAA requirements and that we would win the lawsuit, I do not want to enter and attend Ole Miss under a cloud of controversy.”

Powe added: “By the way, I can read and I can write. My writing may not be perfect, but I am told most medical doctors writing is hard to read too. I have read the articles written about me. The assertions that I cannot read or write are false.”

Back home in Waynesboro, Powe goes back to Wayne County H.S. to take several core courses. He also took a correspondence course with Penn-Foster Career School in Pennsylvania. He also took a part-time job at the Wayne County Jail.

———- 2007 ———-

March – Powe undergoes back surgery.

August 8 – For the third time, Powe signs a letter of intent to attend Mississippi and begins practicing with the Rebels. Within a week of workouts in the pre-season camp, he’s moved into the starting lineup.

August 28 – NCAA again rules Powe academically ineligible, but allows that he can be admitted to Ole Miss and receive full football-related financial aid. But they rule he cannot play or continue to practice until the fall of 2008. “The idea for determining if student-athletes are academically eligible to participate in college sports is to ensure that the rigors of practice and competition do not interfere with the primary reason student-athletes enroll in college — to get an education,” said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president of membership services. “Mr. Powe has not achieved sufficient academic success under NCAA rules to permit athletics participation.”

The committees hearing the appeals – the Student Record Reviews Committee and the Initial Eligibility Learning Disability Subcommittee – supported NCAA staff members’ concerns regarding the amount of coursework Powe completed in a short amount of time.

“In order to grant the waiver and appeal, the staff and membership committees were asked to accept that an individual who previously completed just 7 core courses out of a required 14 in his first five years of high school had subsequently completed 14.5 core courses at three different schools concurrently over a four-month period,” read the NCAA release. “The average number of courses a student completes in a year is four.”

The statement also said Powe, who has been diagnosed as learning disabled, hasn’t demonstrated he can succeed academically while practicing and playing college athletics.

August 29 – Mississippi appeals the NCAA ruling.

September 6 – The NCAA upholds the earlier decision and Powe remains ineligible, but he’s allowed to continue to attend class.

———- 2008 ———-

May – After the fall and spring semesters and one summer school class, Powe passes 24 hours and finished with a 2.3 GPA.

July 28 – Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive declares Powe eligible to play football.

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