(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah (Nov. 14, 2013) — The BYU athletic administration received official word from the NCAA today that Jared Ward’s appeal to have his fourth season of cross country eligibility reinstated was approved.
“We are grateful to the NCAA staff and the subcommittee for taking the time to hear Jared’s appeal,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “I’m thrilled he will have the opportunity to compete with his teammates this year during the postseason.”
Ward returned from an LDS mission in Sept. 2009 too late to enroll at BYU. Before entering school in winter semester 2010 he participated in a recreational race for coaches and family members prior to a high school meet. Later the NCAA determined that due to his participation in that race Ward had utilized a season of collegiate competition.
That season of competition was reinstated today by the NCAA subcommittee for legislative review, allowing Ward the opportunity to compete for BYU immediately.
“I’m obviously very excited. I’m grateful to the NCAA for reviewing my case and giving me the opportunity to run,” said Ward. “I look forward to joining my teammates this weekend at regionals and hopefully competing at the NCAA Championships next week.”
The No. 5 ranked BYU men’s cross country team will compete in the NCAA Mountain Region Championships Friday, Nov. 15 in Riverdale, Utah, with hopes to qualify for the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 23.
Ward and cross country head coach Ed Eyestone addressed the media Wednesday in Legacy Hall. Below are notable quotes from each interview.
"I’m just excited to return with my teammates and have an opportunity to compete at nationals. I got a call from BYU compliance a couple hours ago that said the NCAA had decided to reverse their decision and reinstate my eligibility. I’m grateful to the NCAA for reopening the case and I’m just excited to come back and run one more time."
"I really am just excited to join my teammates. The university and my coaches and teammates have been behind this all the way and so supportive. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything, I only feel like I’ve just recently got something back."
"It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions, but really a learning experience and an opportunity to be grateful for so many people who’ve been behind it all the way, primarily family and friends, my wife, BYU compliance and my coaches and teammates."
"I was ecstatic. I was pulled out of a meeting. It was our athletic director that pulled me out and I knew they had come to a decision. He did a pretty good job of keeping a straight face so I was prepared for the worst, and then when I got a fist-bump from him I knew it was a good day, and it has been a great day for BYU track & field and cross country."
"I think the NCAA made a fair and a consistent decision, particularly in light of recent developments. I am very happy with the NCAA, in fact my faith is renewed in the NCAA because they took a difficult concept and they made they right call on this one. I’m just grateful they took another look at it. Certainly the fact that there was a recent precedent allowed them to reexamine that case. I think when they had all the information they made the right call."
"Jared’s a great athlete. I expect him to rise to the occasion. He’ll be one of our team leaders and we are certainly a stronger team with him than without. I think he was 14th at the NCAA’s last year; he was an All-American. I think he could improve on that position."
"Let’s remember we were a very strong team going into nationals without Jared Ward. We certainly felt like we had the horses to get the job done and be a podium team, top four team, and with Jared Ward we are that much stronger. I think at least now we are in the conversation of teams that certainly deserves to be on the podium, and maybe a top two or top three team. When you’re that high, you hope things fall your way and anything can happen."