University of North Carolina fullback Devon Ramsay’s mother promised in November that she would fight to get her son’s eligibility restored.
Three months later, UNC announced Thursday that based on new information provided by the university, the NCAA ruled that Ramsay did not violate NCAA rules. A rising senior from Red Bank, N.J., Ramsay has been cleared to return to the team and has one season of eligibility remaining.
On Nov. 15, UNC had announced that Ramsay had been declared permanently ineligible after it was determined he committed a violation in the NCAA’s investigation into impermissible benefits and academic misconduct in the UNC football program.
“We’re just elated that they stopped and reviewed and took the time to go back through what they were working with,” Ramsay’s mother, Sharon Lee, said Thursday night.
Lee said Ramsay is ecstatic and “chomping at the bit” to get back on the field.
UNC athletic director Dick Baddour called Ramsay a “first-class student-athlete,” and said he has done very well in the classroom and can make a positive contribution to the program.
Ramsay played the first four games of the 2010 season but was held out for the rest of the season after the discovery of an e-mail exchange with tutor Jennifer Wiley suggesting changes to a three-page paper for a sociology class in November of 2008.
But Lee was convinced that Ramsay hadn’t committed a violation. She voiced her frustration to school officials and tried to contact the NCAA with her concerns. UNC appealed Ramsay’s case, and Lee provided copies of the e-mail exchange to The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer, saying the NCAA’s penalty was cruel and excessive.
Robert Orr, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice and the executive director and senior counsel for the North Carolina Institute of Constitutional Law, took up Ramsay’s case. He, too, was convinced Ramsay hadn’t violated an NCAA rule.
Orr asked for a postponement of the original appeal, which was scheduled for December, because in order to take part in the appeal, Ramsay would have had to admit he had violated a rule. Orr instead wanted to produce new evidence that showed Ramsay had not committed a violation. He said Ramsay had merely asked a tutor for advice on a paper, which is what students are encouraged to do.
He praised UNC administrators for supporting Ramsay.
“I had no doubt that once we were able to put all the information together, there would be no choice but to conclude there was no violation,” Orr said.
Baddour said UNC officials appreciate the time and attention given to the case by the NCAA staff.
As a result of the investigation, 14 Tar Heel players missed at least one game, and seven missed the entire 2010 season.