All-American Mike Williams, was denied his request to play for Southern California by the NCAA on Thursday, leaving the star receiver unable to rejoin
the top-ranked Trojans after being shut out of the NFL draft by the courts.
"I'm glad it's over. Now the team can move forward and I can move forward," Williams said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I'm
disappointed. I did everything asked of me. I don't know yet what I'm going to do. I'll just relax for the weekend and watch the game and root for my
The ruling came down shortly before the Trojans boarded an airplane for Baltimore. They open their season Saturday night against Virginia Tech at
FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
USC coach Pete Carroll was angry with the ruling and its timing.
"It's very cold and insensitive for them to deny him this opportunity," he said. "As a football team, we've been prepared for this for a while. I'm
not surprised by it, but I'm disappointed for Mike and his family. You'll have to go and ask the NCAA for answers, how they can turn someone down who
is academically eligible."
The school had applied to the NCAA for a progress-toward-degree waiver and reinstatement of Williams' eligibility.
USC officials were unsure if there were any appeals still available for Williams but he said he didn't plan to pursue them, anyway.
"I'm kind of done with it right now," he said.
Williams, who told ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman he will work out with USC strength coach Chris Carlisle while attending classes for the next four
months, will be eligible for the 2005 draft. By then, he will be the minimum three years removed from high school. In his quest to have his academic
eligibility restored, Williams also took summer classes.
He caught 95 passes for 1,314 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns last season to help the Trojans (12-1) win a share of the national
The 20-year-old Williams, a sure-handed 6-foot-5, 230-pounder, finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a sophomore last year.
After a court ruled that Ohio State's Maurice Clarett was eligible to play in the NFL, Williams left USC in the spring, hired an agent and said he was
turning pro. That made him ineligible to play for the Trojans.
He was projected as a high draft pick, but on May 24, 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 three years.
Williams has been out of high school less than three years, as has Clarett, who was suspended last season after starring at Ohio State as a
After the appeals court ruling, Williams severed ties with his agent and began the process of applying to the NCAA for reinstatement.
He returned to USC and took summer classes, seeking to have his academic eligibility also restored.