OXFORD, Miss. -- In another surprising twist to a month-long saga, Mississippi quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has been cleared to play football just one day before the start of the season.
Three days ago, the NCAA ruled that the former Oregon quarterback had to sit out a season after enrolling at Mississippi. But the university appealed that decision and announced Friday that the NCAA Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief had overturned the first ruling.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said he couldn't talk about specifics of Friday morning's appeals hearing but was thrilled with the committee's decision.
"It's a big lift for us and the team's really excited," Nutt said. "We feel very fortunate. Jeremiah and his family were in tears, they were so happy afterward.
"It's a great feeling," he said.
Masoli is expected to be the Rebels' starting quarterback this season, though Nutt said sophomore Nathan Stanley will start against Jacksonville State on Saturday because of the short notice.
Masoli played for Oregon the past two seasons, leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in 2009. But he was kicked off Oregon's team earlier this summer after two run-ins with police. He pleaded guilty to a second-degree burglary charge and was also cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Masoli had already received an undergraduate degree from Oregon and decided to transfer to Ole Miss, where he entered the Parks and Recreation graduate program. The NCAA will often waive a one-year residency requirement for athletes who enter a graduate program not offered at the previous school but initially didn't clear Masoli because "the waiver exists to provide relief to student-athletes who transfer for academic reasons to pursue graduate studies, not to avoid disciplinary measures at the previous university."
Obviously, the NCAA subcommittee disagreed, and the Rebels' offense is likely better for it.
"We would like to thank the NCAA staff and subcommittee for approaching this case and all of its details with diligence and fairness," Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said in a released statement.
Masoli accounted for 51 total touchdowns over two seasons at Oregon and is considered one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
In other Ole Miss news, it was determined after exams that defensive end Kentrell Lockett will not need heart surgery.