NORMAN — Dorial Green-Beckham shook hands with OU assistant coaches Jay Norvell and Cale Gundy — ending a clandestine, three-hour Thursday morning meeting — jumped in the back seat of a black van and departed the Barry Switzer Center, having taken the first step toward resuming his college football career.
Green-Beckham, a former five-star wide receiver and No. 1 overall prospect in the 2012 recruiting class, officially became a Sooner approximately 90 minutes later, when OU coach Bob Stoops made the annoucement in a news release.
For the former Missouri wideout, though, many questions remain unanswered: Can he keep his nose clean in Norman? What convinced Oklahoma coaches to add the troubled player who was kicked off Missouri’s team following two marijuana arrests and allegations he broke into an 18-year-old woman’s apartment and shoved her down stairs?
Perhaps the most immediate question on everyone’s mind, though, is this: Can Green-Beckham play for the Sooners in 2014? The OU news release announcing Green-Beckham’s enrollment said he wouldn’t be eligible until 2015, but sources close to the program told The Oklahoman that OU plans to pursue an NCAA waiver for instant eligibility.
“In my opinion, based on what we’ve seen, it’s hard to identify any of the more common waivers that really apply neatly and easily to his situation,” said John Infante, a former NCAA compliance officer who now runs the Bylaw Blog, a site devoted to explaining common issues in major college athletics.
After losing several key wide receivers to graduation, Oklahoma’s only returning wideout with any significant experience is junior Sterling Shepard. The position group is one of only a few areas where the Sooners — a squad widely expected to compete for a national championship next season — are considered relatively weak and untested.
Following OU’s announcement, many fans immediately began latching onto the idea of Green-Beckham receiving a so-called “run-off” waiver, which the NCAA created a couple years ago for players who claimed they were removed from programs for reasons beyond their control.
Oklahoma State’s basketball team recently added senior point guard Anthony Hickey, a three-year starter at LSU who was granted immediately eligibility via the run-off waiver.
However, Hickey’s situation was different; the Tigers recruited depth at Hickey’s position, then peacefully parted ways with him because of things like missed classes and workouts.
The run-off waiver requires that the athlete’s previous school approve the request. But even if Missouri signs off on it, Infante said there might still be issues.
“What that boils down to really is that they weren’t good enough, or they got recruited over or something like that,” Infante said. “It certainly does not include a disciplinary dismissal.