With the help of one of the most recognized legal minds from the South, at least in the sports world, Justin Fields may soon be eligible to play immediately for Ohio State.
If the former Georgia signal caller and five-star quarterback prospect is eligible to play in Columbus next fall, Fields will have Arkansas-based attorney Tom Mars to thank for his good fortune. If you missed it, Ohio State officially confirmed the addition of Fields to the program this week.
Now, thanks to Mars, Fields may have a strong chance of earning his eligibility right away thanks to an obscure NCAA rule. According to Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade, Mars is expecting the NCAA to make a ruling on Fields in the near future.
“Unlike the situation with the Ole Miss transfers, the process of obtaining a waiver for Justin isn’t going to drag on for months,” Mars told The Blade. “This is a high priority for Coach [Ryan] Day, and it’s my top priority at the moment. I’m confident the process will move quickly and that the NCAA will be able to make a decision on OSU’s waiver request much sooner than most people might think.”
So what exactly is Fields’ case for being granted such a waiver? It all goes back to Georgia’s Sept. 29 home game against Tennessee. You may recall a member of the Georgia baseball team shouted the n-word regarding Fields several times during the game. Georgia acknowledged the incident and took swift action, removing the player from Georgia’s baseball program following his objectionable behavior.
According to Mars, that may be enough to get the NCAA to grant a waiver for Fields. Here is the rule Mars is citing for Fields’ case to the NCAA:
A waiver will be granted “in cases where the student-athlete was a victim of objective, documented egregious behavior by a staff member or student at the previous institution and the previous institution supports the waiver.”
The decision may come down to Georgia and if they disagree with Fields’ case for immediate eligibility. It should be noted that Fields’ sister signed and enrolled in Athens to play softball following the October incident. It’s unclear if that will affect Fields’ waiver claim but it does seem odd to many that the Fields family would send another child to Georgia if a legitimate threat was felt following the October incident.
As referenced above, Mars was the attorney that assisted several former Ole Miss players gained immediate eligibility last season following their transfers from Oxford. Thanks to Mars, former Rebels Shea Patterson and Van Jefferson were on the field last fall when under normal NCAA rules, they would have been forced to sit a season out.