The USC Trojans have a little less finagling to do to get under the NCAA’s 75-man scholarship limit after senior cornerback Isiah Wiley was ruled academically ineligible for 2012.
Wiley was one of three players who had not practiced during fall camp while waiting for academic clearance. The other two players in questions, linebacker Marquis Simmons and cornerback Brian Bauchum, are eligible this year.
Wiley transferred to USC from junior college prior to the 2011 season. He seized the starting role partway through the year when cornerbacks Torin Harris and Anthony Brown both went out with injuries.
Brown, a redshirt sophomore, is now in line to start opposite Nickell Robey while Harris recovers from a hamstring injury.
Wiley has a redshirt year remaining and could sit out this year and return to the Trojans in 2013 but because he is no longer on academic scholarship, he would be responsible for his own tuition. ESPN’s Pedro Moura speculated that it would be more likely for Wiley to either transfer to another junior college and redshirt while working to bring his grades up, or transfer to a school with a lower level football program.
Trojans’ head coach Lane Kiffin played down the impact of losing Wiley, who has not participated in any preseason practices.
“The blow is not as big, I think, because of the way that we went about it,” he said.
Operating under reduced scholarships due to NCAA sanctions, the Trojans are fortunate to have Simmons and Bauchum available this season. Simmons missed most of last season after suffering a neck injury that required surgery, while Bauchum was academically ineligible in 2011.
“Any time that your numbers are where ours are at, every small win we can get is big,” Kiffin said.
It might have been a loss for Wiley, but it’s a big win for the former USC walk-ons whose scholarships were in question while the team waited to see how close it came to the 75-man limit. Those players’ scholarships will all be renewed.
USC must have its roster at or below 75 scholarship players by Monday, Aug. 27, the first day of the fall semester, and while Kiffin has declined to discuss specifics, the team is expected to be a few spots below that limit.
The only player whose status is in question is incoming freshman Darreus Rogers, who has not practiced while waiting for clearance through the NCAA’s Eligibility Center.