Bryant loses final appeal

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The NCAA has rejected a final appeal to reinstate Dez Bryant, and Oklahoma State (No. 19 BCS, No. 18 AP) probably has seen the last of its All-America receiver.

The NCAA rejected Oklahoma State's appeal to reinstate Bryant on Thursday, meaning he won't be back this season. The junior is considered a top NFL prospect and few expect him to return for another season in Stillwater.

Bryant sat out the past five games for Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-1 Big 12) after the school ruled him ineligible for lying to an NCAA investigator looking into Bryant's offseason meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders.

The NCAA decided last week that Bryant should be suspended until next September, and OSU appealed to the NCAA's Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. That group announced Thursday that it had rejected Bryant's appeal in a two-paragraph statement that included no explanation.

The NCAA indicated in its initial decision that it was showing leniency toward Bryant, because it could have taken his eligibility away entirely.

Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last season while also scoring twice on punt returns. He was the only one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award left in school this year.

In a letter to the NCAA that accompanied his request for reinstatement, Bryant had asked to be allowed to play again this season and that his "punishment is not so bad that I do not get to play football again at OSU."

"We're obviously disappointed for Dez. As a team, we'll move forward from here," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said in a statement.

Gundy had allowed Bryant to skip some team activities, including practice, because Bryant found it difficult emotionally to be around the team while ineligible. He was in Dallas for an interview last week when the NCAA's initial decision came out.

"He's been in and out and around and in touch," offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer said this week. "It's just been a struggle mentally and it's just been a tough time for everybody."

"He's still working out and doing some things and somewhat on his own and somewhat with us," Brewer added.

While Bryant was away, Brewer said, he had been "really trying to get with his family and make some decisions for him for the long haul."

The Cowboys lost to Texas 41-14 last Saturday to fall out of a tie for the Big 12 South lead.

"I don't think there's any doubt it's been very, very emotional thing. It's a dream of his to play in games like that against Texas. It was very hard," Brewer said. "That's been his life, playing ball, and he loves playing college football. It's been taken away and that's just something we're all dealing with."