LOS ANGELES -- Standout receiver Mike Williams is all but
certain not to play Saturday night when top-ranked Southern
California opens its season because of continuing delays in the
school's appeal process to the NCAA.
After that -- who knows?
USC has applied to the NCAA for a progress-toward-degree waiver
and reinstatement of Williams' eligibility.
"Even today there are still some holdups in the processing --
not on our end," USC coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. "We have
done all we can and we still can't get the word as to what is going
on. It has been very, very difficult to get Mike back on the
"It has been extraordinarily frustrating for Mike and his
Williams, who hasn't practiced with the Trojans since early
August, began fall semester classes Monday.
USC leaves Thursday for its first game against Virginia Tech in
the Black Coaches Association Football Classic.
Williams caught 95 passes for 1,314 yards and a school-record 16
touchdowns as a sophomore last season to help the Trojans (12-1)
win The Associated Press' national championship.
After a court ruled in February that Ohio State's Maurice
Clarett was eligible to play in the NFL, Williams left school in
the spring, hired an agent and said he was turning pro, apparently
ending his college career.
Williams was projected as a high first-round draft pick, but an
appeals court overturned the earlier ruling and upheld the NFL's
right to bar players who had been out of high school for less than
After that ruling, Williams severed ties with his agent and
began the process of applying to the NCAA for reinstatement. He
returned to USC, attended summer school and practiced with the
Trojans early this month while awaiting word on his status.
He's still waiting.
"Mike passed his [summer school] units, got his coursework
done," Carroll said. "Mike has done everything you can do to get
himself back. It's been a very difficult process -- it's just been
hard. It's still very much in question."
Some final required paperwork was sent to the NCAA late Tuesday,
school spokesman Tim Tessalone said.
Carroll said a new NCAA rule requiring an athlete to pass six
units the previous semester to retain eligibility is at the heart
of the matter.
"That's what the requests are about," the coach said. "He has
enough units, he has the grade-point average, but he was not
enrolled in the spring."
Summer school doesn't apply. Williams left school when he made
the decision to go pro.
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said from Indianapolis that the
new rule took effect for the 2003-04 academic year.
"It used to be that it was year-by-year," Christianson said.
"If a student-athlete didn't complete the requisite credit hours
in one semester, he could in the next one."
Christianson said there is no timetable on the Williams matter,
but added: "The NCAA processes reinstatement requests as timely as
possible and at the same time as thoroughly as possible."