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Southern’s Baffling Eligibility Issue

Apparently there is a monster in the Baton Rouge area that feeds on paperwork. Months after Southern’s athletic program was indefinitely suspended by the NCAA for missing/late paperwork, the school finds itself with another eligibility mess on its hand.

Three defensive backs were told they couldn’t play just minutes before Saturday’s game against Northwestern State. They were held out of the game because of uncertainty regarding their eligibility according to The Baton Rouge Advocate. And this wasn’t the first time it has happened this season.

“Two weeks ago, five Southern starters had to get off the team bus before it left for the season opener at UL-Lafayette because they had not been academically certified.
Defensive backs Kevin King, D’Andre Woodland and Dionte McDuffy were able to stay on the bus, start the 45-6 loss to the Ragin’ Cajuns and start again in a 56-14 win against Central Methodist a week later. 

But on Saturday night, the three defensive backs were pulled from the lineup just minutes before kickoff as their certification was deemed inadequate by university officials.

Athletic Director William Broussard seemed as bewildered as anyone by the unexpected change and vowed to find some answers.”

In a separate column, the Advocate’s Les East sympathized with Southern coach Dawson Odums as he tries to deal with the uncertainty regarding his players. 

Like all football coaches, Odums has learned to suppress a variety of emotions — disappointment, anger, frustration, disgust — in order to offer explanations for football shortcomings, those of his players, his staff and himself. 

But it must have been much harder to field the questions Saturday night, trying to explain what could not be explained — the administrative equivalent of not being able to send precisely 11 players on the field at a time or line up appropriately or snap the football effectively in a reasonable period of time. 

“This is the third week of the season, and I don’t know of any of my friends in the coaching profession that are going through this,” said Odums, who had seen more than a half-dozen players declared ineligible before Saturday. “So they can’t give me advice.”

After the issues that missing paperwork caused Southern earlier this year, you’d think things would be different. It’s amazing how something so small can put one of the most prestigious programs in HBCU sports on its heels.

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