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August 15, 2019 - Image 10

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10

Thursday, August 15, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
SPORTS

Harbaugh calls Fickell’s claims “erroneous” amid Hudson transfer saga

Michigan
coach
Jim
Harbaugh
fired
back
at
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell
on Tuesday evening, after
Fickell
scolded
Harbaugh
for his role in the handling
of
tackle
James
Hudson’s
transfer
and
immediate
eligibility waiver.
Hudson, who transferred
from Michigan to Cincinnati
last
October,
was
denied
his petition for immediate
eligibility
after
speaking
out about his struggle with
depression while at Michigan.
“Here’s what I believe in
the whole waiver process: the
number one, most important
thing, and all the power, comes
from the school that a kid
is leaving. No matter what,”
Fickell
told
The
Athletic.
“(Michigan) didn’t back the
waiver. They can say what they
want to say, but the only thing
they said that was positive was
that if the NCAA chooses to
make (Hudson) eligible, then
they would accept it — that
they didn’t have an angle. They
are just trying to cover their
ass. And I’m really, completely
disappointed in it.”
Harbaugh
refuted
that
claim, noting that it’s within
the NCAA’s purview -- not
Michigan’s -- to determine
Hudson’s
eligibility,
and
that
Michigan
did nothing to
deter
Hudson’s
chances.
“I
read
Luke
Fickell’s
comments
and
unless
I’m
reading
them
wrong
or
mistaking
them, I believe
he’s under the
impression that these waivers
are decided coach to coach in
some kind of deal fashion. And
that’s not the understanding
that I’m under. I’m under the
understanding that the NCAA
decides these waivers. Unless
he has something that he can
bring forth and share and
enlighten us and the entire
football world, I would really
like to know what that is.
“Erroneous,
erroneous,”

Harbaugh then said Tuesday,
of
Fickell’s
assertions.
“Michigan did not block the
waiver, no. We wish James
Hudson well but that is not
in the coach’s hands, it’s not
in the university’s hands. It’s
not in his hands. It’s the way
the process works right now.
Those
waivers
are decided by
the NCAA.”
The
NCAA’s
decision
on
Hudson
comes
amid
a
flurry
of
inquiries
from
transfers,
some of whom
successfully
gain
eligibility
while others fail
to do so. Michigan quarterback
Shea Patterson, of course, was
granted immediate eligibility
to play last season after leaving
Ole Miss, which was under
heavy NCAA sanctions at the
time. This year, Ohio State
quarterback
Justin
Fields
will be immediately eligible,
leaving Georgia after he was
subjected to racist comments
from a baseball player.
The
NCAA’s
rulings
in

these situations have become
notoriously
difficult
to
predict. The NCAA provision
states that a player can receive
immediate eligibility if “the
transfer is due to documented
mitigating
circumstances
that are outside the student-
athlete’s control and directly
impact the health, safety and
well-being of the student-
athlete.”
Hudson and Fickell certainly
felt his circumstances met
those criteria, though Hudson
never expressed his feelings
of
depression
to
school
administrators.
This
public
back
and
forth comes just weeks after
Harbaugh insinuated players
often feel the need to fabricate
reasons
to
seek
eligibility
-- comments that drew the
ire of those who felt he was
directly suggesting Hudson
misrepresented
his
mental
health.
“And the other piece that
bothers me about it is, the
youngster that says ‘this is
a mental health issue, I’m
suffering from depression.’ Or
that’s a reason to get eligible,”
Harbaugh said at Big Ten

Media Days, in the context
of
post-transfer
eligibility..
And once that’s known that
‘Hey, say this or say that’ to
get eligible. The problem I see
in that is you’re going to have
guys that are ‘OK, yeah, I’m
depressed.’
Glenda
Hudson,
James’
mother, recalled
to The Athletic
receiving a text
from
her
son
shortly after.
“My son text
me and told me,
‘Coach called me
a liar, mom,’ she
said.
Days
later,
Harbaugh issued
a tweet to clarify
his remarks, stating “My belief
is that a one-time transfer
should be allowed for all
student athletes. I am clearly
advocating
for
rights
that
college football players have
not had.” He reiterated that
stance Tuesday, which, were
it NCAA policy, would render
this entire situation moot.
But it’s not. And Harbaugh
said Tuesday that when Fickell
initially reached out to him to

discuss Hudson’s situation,
Fickell “tried to coach me
into saying it differently”,
presumably in an attempt to
sway the NCAA toward a more
lenient ruling.
“I called him to say that I
don’t know what’s going on
with all these waivers, but I
know James is
here,”
Fickell
told
The
Athletic.
“Are
you guys going
to be vindictive
against him, or
do you want to
help this kid?”
“And I told
him, ‘Coach I
mean I believe
you’re
telling
the
truth,
forthright,’

Harbaugh recalled. “ ‘What
I told James, what I told
you, what I told compliance
is going to be the truth.’ As
I said, I read the article. He
asked a question in the article,
‘What’s
most
important:
personal beliefs or what’s in
the best interest of the kid?’
And I can answer that. What’s
most important is the truth.”

ALEXANDRIA POMPEI/Daily
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh denies any interference with tackle James Hudson’s transfer and preaches truth and integrity.

I’m under the
understanding
that the NCAA
decides ...

I can answer
that. What’s
most important
is the truth.

MAX MARCOVITCH
Managing Sports Editor

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