NCAA Grants Ohio State Quarterback Justin Fields Immediate Eligibility
The NCAA has approved former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields's request for immediate eligibility at Ohio State, the University announced Friday.
The transfer waiver approval means that Fields will not have to sit out the typical one year after transferring and will be eligible to compete for the Buckeyes in the 2019-20 season.
Fields addressed the decision Friday afternoon.
"I thank God for His guidance during this time of uncertainty," Fields said in a statement. "I would like to thank the NCAA for its approval of the waiver allowing me to be eligible to play football this fall. I also want to thank all those who supported and encouraged my family and me during this process. While my case was pending before the NCAA, my family and I did not feel that it was appropriate to publicly speak about the circumstances leading to my transfer. In my silence, people began to speculate, and the story took on a life of its own."
He continued: "Now that this matter is concluded, I would like to clarify some facts. I have no regrets about my time at UGA and have no hard feelings for the school or football program. My overall experience at UGA was fully consistent with UGA's commitment to diversity and inclusion. My sister is a softball player at UGA. I am still close friends with many of my UGA teammates. A part of me will always be a Georgia Bulldogs fan."
Fields thanked Buckeye Nation for their warm welcome and added that he will not be speaking on the matter further. Head coach Ryan Day also thanked the NCAA for their prompt decision making.
"I am happy for Justin and his family," Day said in a statement. "I also want to express my appreciation for the NCAA for its assistance in getting this matter resolved efficiently and with such a positive outcome for Justin."
The former five-star recruit from Kennesaw, Ga., functioned as the Bulldogs backup quarterback behind sophomore signal caller Jake Fromm, which prompted him to enter the NCAA’s transfer portal in mid-December after the SEC Championship game.
Fields enrolled at Ohio State at the start of spring semester earlier this month.
During his limited freshman campaign, Fields was the subject of a racist comment from Georgia baseball player Adam Sasser. The comment was made during Georgia's win over Tennessee on Sept. 29, which gave the freshman QB and his attorney, Thomas Mars, grounds to make the case that Fields should be able to transfer without an eligibility penalty.
New NCAA transfer guidelines include a provision for undergraduate transfers which states that a player may not have to spend one year-in-residence before taking the field for their new team if "the transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete."
Sasse's comments were argued to be mitigating circumstances for Fields and were a key part of the highly-touted quarterback's waiver request, USA Today reports.
Mars, who also helped Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson receive approval on his waiver for eligibility last season, along with five other Ole Miss players, issued a statement Friday in response to the ruling.
"I'm happy for Justin and all the Buckeye fans who have been anxiously waiting for his decision," Mars wrote, per the Toldeo Blade's Kyle Rowland. "Justin's not only a great quarterback, he's also an exceptionally mature young man with a bright future."
Fields completed 27 of 39 passes during his freshman year and threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. He also added four rushing touchdowns.