Those who know me will tell you that’s not unusual. And the fact that we’re now dealing with both the legal community and the historically foggy-minded NCAA further complicates the matter.
Or does it?
What we know is that Balogun has been granted an injunction enjoining the NCAA from decertifying his eligibility and allowing him to practice pending a hearing in a Norman civil court next Monday. All this is tied to the NCAA’s apparent new belief (after twice certifying Balogun eligible both for last season and a bowl game) that he played for what has been called a semi-professional football team after his 21st birthday, which would have been Sept. 28, 2004.
The source of contention is an NCAA bylaw that states “any participation as an individual ... in organized sports competition ... during each 12-month period after (his/her) 21st birthday and prior to initial full-time enrollment in a collegiate institution shall constitute a year of varsity competition in that sport.”
Thus, the contention that Balogun doesn’t have a second year to play for OU.
I’m told -- and the petition states -- that the august body became re-concerned after receiving an email from a compliance person at Florida State who heard about the 25-year-old Balogun’s non-school football participation on the telecast of the BCS Championship game. Every reporter on the OU beat had previously written about that and this was something the NCAA knew about when it had previously certified him to play.
This was the genesis for this new inquiry? Good grief!
OK, after coming in off the ledge, I’m quoting from the filed writ:
“During this (new) investigation, the NCAA was provided information from OU in February and March 2009 that indicated that OU had contacted (former Maryland Marauders’ assistant coach Dennis) Felton and that Felton believed that Balogun had played for the Marauders from 2004 through 2006.”
(Felton's statement was not a sworn document. Balogun enrolled at Lackawana Junior College in Pennsylvania in June, 2006.)
“However, OU also provided the NCAA with information including signed and sworn affidavits from Balogun and Gary Rice, the owner of the Marauders from 2003 to 2005. These affidavits included information consistent with the information previously provided by Balogun to the NCAA Eligibility Center. In addition, the information and affidavits provided confirmed that Balogun did not play football with the Marauders or any other NAFL team after he reached the age of 21. At this time, OU restated its reasonable belief that Balogun was certified and classified as a junior with one year of eligibility remaining.”
No longer quoting now, it should be noted before the next section of the document that the NAFL Web site lists Balogun as recovering a fumble in an account of the 2005 championship game. The story is not out of a newspaper and apparently was written by the father of the kicker for the victorious West Side Saints.
“In addition, the NCAA and the NCAA Eligibility Center were provided information concerning OU’s discussions with Terry Sullivan, a former commissioner of the NAFL. Sullivan advised OU that the NAFL’s rosters, the numbers assigned to players as stated on the Internet Web sites and other information listed on the Internet Web sites concerning the NAFL is often inaccurate. Sullivan stated that he personally reviewed the files of the NAFL and did not find any information that suggested that Balogun participated in the league after he attained the age of 21. Sullivan also stated that based on discussions he had with others in the NAFL, those persons were of the opinion that Balogun played in the NAFL for approximately one (calendar) year (summers of 2003-2004) and did not play after his 21st birthday.”
The petition also notes that Balogun was born Sept.28, 1983 and that he was 17 when he graduated from Upper Marlboro (Md.) High School in May of 2001. And that he was 19 and 20 when he played two seasons in the NAFL. He would not have turned 21 then until September of 2004, after the conclusion of his second season with the Marauders if you believe the former owner and former commissioner.
Further consider that Balogun -- gainfully employed at the time -- did not receive any compensation. That the league was an amateur league (which it now clearly identifies itself) and that Balogun paid his own expenses while playing, including lodging, meals and transportation. He also paid a “referee” fee, apparently a player-supported pool to pay game officials.
As a way of background, I’m told that Glass -- Balogun’s attorney -- has an excellent reputation and is not likely to participate in a frivolous filing. In other words, he’s not likely to hang his fanny over the campfire if he’s not wearing fire-retardant britches. Which would lead me to believe that he has impressed on Balogun the hard-line view the legal system takes toward those who are not truthful in sworn testimony, which is what an affidavit is.
I talked to Glass briefly this afternoon. He said it was in Balogun's best interest that his case be stated in court Monday and he declined further comment.
In my opinion, it’s a good thing this thing is in the legal system. For the most part, courts seem to be heavily impressed with documentation and precedent, which the Balogun team seems to have stacked up against an unsworn recollection and a Web site account that certainly could be questioned.
So what is the civil court judge likely to do Monday? From where I stand, it looks like sworn documentation lines up with Balogun’s team, and the Sooners.