Burlington wide receiver Dwight Jones is officially a Tar Heel.
Jones, who had been enrolled and practicing at Valdosta (Ga.) State for the last week, was released by the Division II school and then signed scholarship papers at North Carolina on Friday, after it was determined that his academics were judged under the wrong set of criteria — leaving him eligible to play Division I football.
Transfers usually have to sit out a year, but the NCAA has granted a waiver, meaning Jones can play for North Carolina this season.
“We are excited to add Dwight Jones to our football team,” UNC coach Butch Davis said in a prepared statement. “Our football staff and compliance office have worked very hard to make his enrollment a possibility, and his teammates and I look forward to welcoming Dwight to Chapel Hill. The people at Valdosta State have been extremely cooperative throughout this situation, and we are very appreciative of their efforts and understanding.”
Jones, who played at Cummings High and was a four-star prospect by scout.com, signed with UNC in February, 2007, then played at Hargrave Military Academy when he failed to qualify. He enrolled at Valdosta State after he apparently failed to qualify again.
But his transcripts were judged with an old set of NCAA rules. Since Jones graduated high school in 2007, his grade point average should have been evaluated on 14 core courses — not 16, a change the NCAA made for the 2008 recruiting class.
UNC officials questioned his status to the NCAA Eligibility Center on August 1, the school said in a statement. Jones is expected to arrive in Chapel Hill on Saturday evening; UNC's players have Sunday off, and will resume training camp Monday morning.
“We really do appreciate the way the football coaches and administrative staff at Valdosta State dealt with this situation,” UNC athletics director Dick Baddour said in a prepared statement. “Dwight made his initial college selection more than a year ago and worked hard academically since then to attend UNC. We hope this has not been disruptive to Valdosta’s preseason preparation."