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Neither the pleas of his family members nor an ultimate exoneration by federal prosecutors and investigators may be able to save Harvey "Scooter" McDougle Jr.'s football season at the University of Toledo.
McDougle, 22, the Rockets running back who is suspended from the team because of his alleged connection to a point-shaving scandal, has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2007 season.
Paul Helgren, UT's assistant athletic director for media relations, confirmed McDougle's ineligibility status to The Blade yesterday, but would not discuss any other details because of a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
To be considered eligible for athletic competition at UT, students must maintain a certain grade-point average, pass a set number of credit hours each year, and stay on track to complete an undergraduate degree within five years.
University officials confirmed that McDougle is still a student at UT and is on scholarship, but has been suspended from the football team since his March 29 arrest in connection with an alleged point-shaving scheme.
Initial criminal charges against McDougle were dropped April 18, and his grandmother has written twice to UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs seeking her grandson's reinstatement on the football team.
Even if Dr. Jacobs were to lift the suspension, it doesn't appear that McDougle will be in uniform for the Rockets because of his academic status.
McDougle's father, Harvey McDougle Sr., who last week told The Blade his son would not be indicted on point-shaving charges or forced to testify against his teammates, said UT was wrong about his son's eligibility.
"He's not academically ineligible, and that's all I can say," McDougle Sr. said. "I'm so sick of that university, I don't even know what to do with all of this."
When pressed about McDougle's academic status by The Blade, Helgren said: "We are getting this from our compliance director [Brian Lutz]. He is ineligible. It's unequivocal."
McDougle Sr. said his son is currently working in an internship program for UT credit and didn't know why he was considered academically ineligible for football.
McDougle Sr. criticized UT coach Tom Amstutz for not calling him since his son was arrested, and accused the university of not supporting McDougle since the federal point-shaving investigation became public.
"If it were up to me, he'd be gone from there," McDougle Sr. said. "But he's loyal and he loves the game, and he wants to stick it out in Toledo."
If McDougle avoids any further legal trouble and is not found to have broken any NCAA violations through his relationship with a Detroit-area gambler, then this will be the second season he will have lost eligibility because of academics.
According to the Rockets' 2006 media guide, McDougle sat out his freshman season in 2003 due to NCAA academic restrictions.
Right now, McDougle, who's major is listed in the media guide as "individualized studies in the University College," is waiting for the smoke to clear from the alleged point-shaving scheme he was accused by federal agents of participating in with Ghazi "Gary" Manni.
McDougle was charged in March in U.S. District Court in Detroit with betting on a UT football game and recruiting other university football and men's basketball players to engage in point-shaving.
The complaint accused McDougle of recruiting UT football and basketball players who would keep the final scores of games within a certain point spread for Manni, who would bet on those games.
The FBI said at least one player was offered $10,000 to sit out a game, and several players received "cash, a car, a phone, and other things of value" from Manni.
Federal agents also accused McDougle of asking Manni to place a $2,000 bet for him on UT's game against Texas-El Paso in the 2005 GMAC Bowl. McDougle sat out that game because of injuries, and the Rockets defeated their opponent 45-13.
According to attorneys for both sides, the charges against McDougle were dropped as a matter of procedure and could be refiled.
McDougle Sr. said his son met with federal prosecutors last week, and after that meeting was told by his attorney that he would not face additional charges.
McDougle's attorney, James Burdick, said his client wasn't guilty of any gambling charges, but denied telling anyone that the UT football player would not be indicted in this case.
Even if McDougle Sr. is correct and his son avoids the courtroom, McDougle may still be found in violation of NCAA rules.
According to the federal complaint, on Dec. 14, McDougle told the FBI that Manni had given him cash, a car, and other items, but denied changing his play to affect the outcome of a football game.
Contact Joe Vardon