Ole Miss Football: Administration Fumbled Wilkins’ Future

Sep 27, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Jordan Wilkins (22) advances the ball during the game against the Memphis Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Jordan Wilkins (22) advances the ball during the game against the Memphis Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports /

The start of the 2016 Ole Miss Rebel football season is just a couple of weeks away. But for Jordan Wilkins it does not matter because due to an “administrative error”, he will not play this season.

Reports on Wednesday night said that Jordan Wilkins was rule academically ineligible for the upcoming 2016 Ole Miss football season. Usually these revelations come about because a student-athlete did not hit the books. Therefore, the loss of a year of eligibility is fitting punishment for their laziness. However, allegedly, an academic advisor mistakenly gave Wilkins incorrect information as to the number of credits he had. He achieved the grades but the advisor gave him bad advisement.

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As an Ole Miss fan, I am aware of implication to the team on the field of play. I realize how not having him on the field may cause them to have to play some younger players. I get the football part of the issue. But this is beyond football. This is gross incompetence at its highest level.

These college football players sacrifice a lot in order to put a competitive team on the field. They push their bodies to the limit during workouts. The Rebel players have braved the intense Summer heat of “Fall” practice. They must do this and maintain a grade point average that allows them to continue  to play.

They show up on Saturdays and entertain us like Roman gladiators. We accuse them of not trying hard when they lose. We talk about how they disappoint “us” when they slip up off the field of play, as if they owe “us” something. The pressure is great.

The system that is put in place to help them excel in the classroom, needs to work properly. Moreover, they believe that the administration simply needs to do the job that they are suppose to do. They expect the coaches to coach. They expect the trainers to look after their health. Jordan Wilkins expects his academic advisor to make sure he has the required hours to be eligible to play.

The system failed Wilkins. He kept up his part of the deal. He passed all his classes. Wilkins has put in three years of academic work and expected to be an academic senior this year. But allegedly, due to a lack of competence by an advisor he may have came up short of the required hours.

A recent posting on the Ole Miss job board seems to indicate that there is an immediate need for an academic counselor for the Athletics Department. Many assume this is the job of the afore mentioned advisor. The post shows one thing, the person assigned as Jordan Wilkins’ advisor was derelict in duty. The job description given shows that the previous advisor failed Wilkins and may have adversely affected his future.

According to the description, “The incumbent ensures all University, Conference, and NCAA eligibility requirements are met…” That didn’t happen. And there is this. “Provides specific eligibility counseling and academic support to student-athletes to ensure student is making progress toward educational objectives.” Again, they failed Wilkins.

Wilkins was looking forward to a breakout year. He came into the Fall battling for the starting running back position. This could have been the year that would have set up his future, but because someone else failed at their job, he has to suffer.

The obligatory “we take full responsibility” comment from the Athletic Department is not enough. I know they appealed the ruling and it has been denied. I know they may have done all they could do. But, the administration spends too much time talking about accountability for this to be the end of the Wilkins’ saga.

The team should exhaust every avenue to help Jordan. Because of this travesty, he will only have one season of eligibility left. Ole Miss need to look after Wilkins’ future. Even if helping him means he chooses to leave the team. I hope not. But I would not blame him if that becomes an option. They have failed him and now they need to make it right.

I admit that I don’t know the answers. But so far the ones that were supposed to know the answers, failed to give him the correct ones. Therefore, I wish Jordan Wilkins the best. Because he certainly deserved better.