WEST HARRISON, Ind. -- Quarterback Ben Mauk, one of the key components in the Cincinnati Bearcats' rise to Top 25 prominence last season, had his final appeal for another year of eligibility turned down Friday by the NCAA.
It was the third time that Mauk's request for another season has been rejected by the NCAA.
"I'm disappointed for Ben," coach Brian Kelly said after the team's practice Friday. "But he's a pretty resilient kid. Obviously he's quite disappointed himself. But he's got a lot of good options out there."
Mauk was an inspiring story last season, when he overcame career-threatening injuries and led Cincinnati to a No. 17 ranking in the final poll. He threw for 31 touchdowns and 3,121 yards even though his right arm and shoulder were still in pain.
Mauk broke the arm and separated the shoulder in the season opener for Wake Forest in 2006, then transferred to Cincinnati unsure whether he would ever be able to play again. He got stronger as the season went along.
Afterward, he appealed to the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility because of the injuries, but was turned down. He appealed again on a different basis, pointing out that he redshirted his freshman year at Wake Forest in part because of different injuries. The NCAA again turned him down.
Finally, Mauk took his appeal to the NCAA's reinstatement committee, which decided Friday that there wasn't enough medical documentation to support his claim that he missed his freshman year because of injury.
Mauk was with the team at its summer camp Friday morning when the university got the decision. He left camp to be with his family. Kelly said that Mauk would like to try to join an NFL team in training camp. If not, he could be a graduate assistant with Cincinnati, where Mauk is working on his master's degree.
The ruling means that Cincinnati will head into the season with senior Dustin Grutza as the No. 1 quarterback. Mauk replaced Grutza as the starter last season.
"I kind of felt bad," Grutza said. "Ben's a good friend of mine, and we've been through a lot of stuff together."