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August 14, 2009
NCAA questions amateur status of Mike Balogun
Mike Balogun, the University of Oklahoma's starting middle linebacker during last year's BCS National Championship game, has been decertified by the NCAA for competition in 2009.
Balogun's amateur status is in question after the University of Oklahoma uncovered new information regarding his involvement with the North American Football League, a semi-professional league.
Balogun, a 25-year old senior, did not play football during his senior year of high school in Maryland. He worked odd jobs to support a family once out of high school.
He signed to play football at Lackawanna Community College as a 23-year old freshman after being offered a scholarship during a tryout camp.
University officials had been aware of Balogun's participation in semi-professional football prior to the 2008 season, and worked jointly with the NCAA on certifying his status as NCAA eligible for that season.
Balogun was cleared to compete, signed off on by the NCAA, but new information uncovered by Oklahoma has caused the NCAA to de-certify him at the present time.
The question of Balogun's amateur status hinges on whether he competed in the semi-pro league past the age of 21.
According to the NCAA, any participation during each 12-month period after his 21st birthday would result in a corresponding loss of a season of collegiate eligibility.
"I think he has until next Wednesday when he's allowed to practice and then from there we'll see what they determine," said Bob Stoops.
Stoops says he doesn't believe this new information will have any impact on his team, or it's records, from a year ago.
"I think, from what I understand, the precedent in all of this has been not to take any wins away or have anything to do with last year," he said. "He was certified last year, he's de-certified now, so now's the issue."
Balogun is currently practicing with the team until the NCAA can make a final ruling on his status. That ruling is expected to come on August 19th.
If the NCAA does not recertify Balogun's amateur status, he will no longer be able to compete.
Balogun's uncertainty means the Sooners will re-insert Austin Box into a more prominent role at the middle linebacker position.
Box started four games a season ago at that position before getting injured late in the year and giving way to Balogun in the national championship game.
In the meantime, the uncertainty concerning Balogun will remain. The NCAA will be the final judge and jury on his ability to remain with the football program.
"I don't know how we could have done more than we have in this matter, and we've had a good working relationship with the NCAA on Mike's case all along," said Stoops. "We're still hopeful that Mike will be eligible for this season, but we'll have to see what happens over the coming days."