NCAA turns down Mauk again, sets final appeal

CINCINNATI -- Quarterback Ben Mauk lost another round Monday in his attempt to get one more season of eligibility from the NCAA, leaving him down to his last appeal.

Mauk, who led Cincinnati to a No. 17 final ranking last season, was turned down by the NCAA's staff for the fourth time on Monday. Mauk has failed to convince the association that injuries cost him significant playing time during his career at Wake Forest and Cincinnati.

However, the NCAA's reinstatement committee scheduled a phone conference with Mauk on Thursday, giving him one last chance to state his case for a reversal.

"There have been many instances where the staff turned down an appeal, and the reinstatement committee reversed it," Mauk's lawyer, Kevin Murphy, said in a phone interview Monday night. "While we would have appreciated a staff ruling that would have put him on the field tomorrow, we are grateful for the opportunity to be heard on Thursday."

The NCAA's decision came after Mauk sued in court and got a temporary restraining order. The case was put on hold while the NCAA reconsidered its stance.

The phone conference on Thursday will be held a few hours before the Bearcats open their season at home against Eastern Kentucky. Dustin Grutza, who lost his job to Mauk last year, is expected to start at quarterback for the Bearcats. Mauk hopes for a quick decision from the reinstatement committee.

"They told us that they'd get us a prompt ruling," Murphy said. "What prompt means, I'm not exactly sure. They have done what they've told us. They've been looking at it promptly. While Ben and I would have hoped for a better ruling from the staff, we're confident we'll get a fair and good hearing from the committee."

Mauk didn't return a message left on his cell phone.

Mauk was one of the biggest surprises of last year's college football season, making a remarkable comeback from severe injuries. He dislocated his passing shoulder and broke his arm in the season opener for Wake Forest in 2007, raising questions about whether he would ever play again.

Mauk transferred to Cincinnati for his graduate studies, rehabilitated his shoulder, won the starting job and led the Bearcats to a breakthrough season. He threw for 31 touchdowns and 3,121 yards even though his shoulder was still in pain. The Bearcats tied their school record with 10 wins, and finished the season with their highest ranking at No. 17.

Then, Mauk set out to get one more season.

He tried to convince the NCAA that he should get another season because of the arm and shoulder injuries. When that appeal was rejected, he argued that he had to redshirt his freshman season at Wake Forest because of injuries.

The NCAA ruled there was insufficient proof of his claims, and turned him down again. When the reinstatement committee rejected his appeal as well without letting Mauk make his pitch in person, he went to court.

Mauk filed a lawsuit on Aug. 13 and got a temporary restraining order from Hardin County Judge William Hart. The case was put on hold when the NCAA staff allowed Mauk to submit more information on his case. It turned him down on Monday, but granted a hearing with the reinstatement committee.

He is not allowed to practice with the Bearcats while the case is considered.