Middle Tennessee appealing decision

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Middle Tennessee quarterback Dwight Dasher said he made a mistake borrowing $1,500 from an 80-year-old man at a Veterans Administration hospital and is relieved finally to know his punishment from the NCAA even as he hopes the university's appeal trims that suspension from four games.

The NCAA announced Thursday that Dasher must sit out four games and repay a $1,500 loan to become eligible again. The NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff ruled that Dasher violated preferential treatment rules by receiving a loan from someone in the community. Middle Tennessee is appealing, hoping to get the suspension reduced to three games.

Dasher read a statement at a news conference Thursday night and said he borrowed the money for a "little family problem" and not for gambling. He said he didn't go to Oliver Donnell to take out a loan.

"I mean he offered one. It's just a mistake that I made. It wasn't nothing big," Dasher said.

"I learned like even though it's hard to say no to your family, I learned sometimes you've got to do that. Sometimes you've got to be positive and take everything the right way instead of the wrong way," he said.

Repaying the loan was also part of the NCAA's requirements for Dasher to regain his eligibility, and Middle Tennessee has told the NCAA that Dasher has repaid the loan. Donnell is now telling The Daily News Journal newspaper that Dasher hasn't repaid $1,350 and that he may sue. A paper trail exists only for the final $150 paid on Aug. 27.

Athletic director Chris Massaro said university officials interviewed Donnell four different times with two people at each session where the man showed a bank deposit slip as proof the quarterback had paid back the entire loan. Massaro said the money was borrowed in chunks adding up to $1,500.

Dasher said he was telling the truth. Coach Rick Stockstill said he believes his quarterback because Dasher's story has never changed.

Middle Tennessee should receive paperwork from the NCAA on Friday, and the athletics director said their formal appeal to the reinstatement committee will be in by Monday night. University officials expect a decision by the end of next week.

Dasher has already sat out the first two games of the season.

Massaro said they had hoped for three games because this was a loan Dasher intended to repay.

"By all documentation, this wasn't like some of the other cases where it's just an out and out payment and those kinds of things with no necessary desire to repay it. This was clearly a loan from the get-go, and so I'm hoping that might be one of the mitigating circumstances," Massaro said.

School officials suspended the senior Aug. 27. He missed an opening loss to Minnesota and last week's win over Austin Peay. Sitting out four games would put him on target to return to the Blue Raiders (1-1) for the Oct. 5 game against Troy -- a key Sun Belt Conference matchup.

Dasher set a bowl record last December rushing for 201 yards as a quarterback, topping the 200 yards Vince Young ran for in the 2006 BCS national championship game, in the New Orleans Bowl victory that capped a 10-3 season. He is the Sun Belt Conference's preseason offensive player of the year and already the school's career leader in yards rushing by a quarterback.

The loan became public when someone contacted campus police.