GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd must sit out another game and make arrangements to pay about $2,700 to charity before he is eligible to compete again.
The NCAA’s student-athlete reinstatement staff handed down its decision Thursday. Floyd sat out Florida’s season opener last week and will do the same Saturday night against UAB.
“I’m angered, disgusted and extremely disappointed that Sharrif will have to miss two games,” Gators coach Will Muschamp said. “In my opinion, Sharrif is getting lumped into what is bad about college athletics. … Sharrif is what is good about college athletics — his life is about survival, struggle, disappointment and adversity.
I have recruited kids that
did not know where they would sleep that night or what they would eat. Growing up, Sharrif was one these kids. …
The NCAA stated that he received preferential treatment. There is nothing preferential about his life.
” — Florida coach Will Muschamp
“I have recruited kids that did not know where they would sleep that night or what they would eat. Growing up, Sharrif was one these kids. Sharrif’s life is also about triumph, honesty, integrity, determination, perseverance and character. The NCAA stated that he received preferential treatment. There is nothing preferential about his life.”
Floyd grew up poor and has recounted the time when he wore the same clothes to elementary school every day for months at a time. His biological father died when he was 3 years old, and the man he thought was his father over the next 12 years “didn’t treat me right growing up,” he said.
Floyd left home at 15, moved in with grandmother and then bounced around from coaches to friends to other relatives. Muschamp said Floyd still sends his grandmother part of his monthly Pell Grant money.
A 6-foot-3, 295-pound Philadelphia native, Floyd played in all 13 games last season and started two. He had 23 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss, and was expected to play a bigger role this fall. But the university declared Floyd ineligible last week for violating the NCAA’s preferential treatment rules.
Muschamp broke the news to him before Florida’s opener.
“The toughest day that I have had as a head football coach at Florida was the day that I had to tell Sharrif that he could not play in our game vs. FAU last week,” Muschamp said. “I took away part of his family. He had tears in his eyes and said, ‘What have I done wrong?’ I told him he did nothing wrong. It wasn’t any easier to tell him today that he would be missing Saturday’s game.”
Floyd received more than $2,500 over several months from the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Delaware.
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Floyd used the money for living expenses, transportation and other expenses. He also received impermissible benefits prior to enrollment, including transportation and lodging related to several unofficial visits. Florida was not one of the schools.
Based on Floyd’s background, the penalty was reduced from a potential four games to two. In its decision, the reinstatement staff cited Floyd’s hardship that led to the impermissible benefits.
“We examine each situation carefully and consider all elements related to a student-athlete’s individual circumstances and the violation,” said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president of academic and membership affairs.
“This gives us the flexibility to tailor the conditions of reinstatement that take into account all details and are in the best interest of the involved student-athlete.”
Florida can appeal the reinstatement decision to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, an independent panel comprised of representatives from NCAA member colleges, university and athletic conferences who are not directly affiliated with Florida. If appealed, Floyd would remain ineligible until the conclusion of the appeals process.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Floyd brought the matter to the school’s attention in February.
“Sharrif has been extremely forthcoming throughout the process and the NCAA has commented on his honesty and openness,” Foley said. “Sharrif grew up in an environment where he didn’t have the things most of us take for granted — food, shelter and clothing. In the absence of parents, there were kind people, in no way affiliated with the University of Florida, who were not boosters or sports agents, that helped him along the way to provide those things that he would otherwise not have had. This is not an issue about his recruitment to the University of Florida or any other university.
“Sharrif Floyd is an outstanding young man and we are very proud that he represents our program. We are all disappointed that he had to deal with this situation, but he will move forward and be stronger for this.”
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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