Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh assures that quarterback Shea Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss who is awaiting a decision from the NCAA regarding his petition for immediate eligibility, has been engaged in practices and the quarterback competition.
Patterson transferred to Michigan last December from Ole Miss, which was slapped with three years of probation and a two-year bowl ban by the NCAA. He and several of his teammates transferred, contending they were lied to by former head coach Hugh Freeze, members of the football staff and athletic department personnel during their recruitment in 2016 regarding the breadth of NCAA violations.
It is unclear when the NCAA will make a decision — Patterson’s attorney, Thomas Mars, said his best guess is in the next two weeks — but Patterson is free to practice with the Wolverines. He is competing with Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton for the job.
Patterson would have made his first public appearance in a Michigan uniform in the spring game Saturday, but that has been canceled because of weather forecast.
“Shea’s practicing. Practicing very well,” Harbaugh said Wednesday on the Big Ten spring football conference call. “He’s going about his business and taking care of it nicely. He’s controlling the things he can control and we’re treating it the same way as a coaching staff and as a team.”
What is out of control is whether the NCAA will waive the transfer requirement of sitting a year and allow Patterson to be immediately eligible to play this fall. Michigan’s compliance department handled the initial request to the NCAA on Patterson’s behalf. It was sent to Ole Miss according to protocol. Ole Miss had the option to not respond but chose to file its objection to the NCAA on March 28.
Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork in a statement Tuesday said Ole Miss had “no choice” but to object to Patterson’s waiver appeal.
“We would not oppose a waiver of the year-in-residence (transfer) requirement based on a legitimate reason for any student-athlete who wants to transfer from Ole Miss,” Bjork said. “So the waiver in question, the way it was written, we had no choice but to respond the way that we did and anyone who left our program, we wish them the best academically and athletically, and at this point it’s not really our matter. It’s an NCAA and Michigan matter at this point.”
Mars on Monday night before Bjork released a statement, blasted Ole Miss for its objection.
“If I didn’t know better, I would have thought Ole Miss hired Pinocchio to write its response to Michigan’s waiver request,” Mars said.
Mars then disputed Bjork’s take on the situation.
“Contrary to what Ole Miss’s AD said earlier today, Ole Miss did have a choice,” Mars said Tuesday. “They could have chosen to affirmatively support Shea getting a waiver or they could have chosen to remain silent. Instead, they chose to take the low road.
“Still, it’s never too late to do the right thing. Ole Miss can withdraw its objections to Shea being eligible this fall, and everyone can move on with their lives. That would be the happiest possible ending to this ordeal for everyone involved.”
Mars represented former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt in a defamation suit that was settled last year by the university. Ole Miss also formally apologized last October for spreading lies about NCAA violations taking place under his watch as head coach. These elements, detailing lies and misdirection plays, have played an enormous role in Patterson’s NCAA waiver appeal.