BYU football: Unga's career as Cougar RB is over
Provo » All-conference running back Harvey Unga's football career at Brigham Young University is over, leaving the Cougars with a huge void in the backfield as they embark on one of the most difficult schedules in recent memory this fall while breaking in a new quarterback.
Unga, the leading rusher in school history with 3,455 career yards, withdrew from the school operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 16, saying that he had run afoul of the private school's strict honor code.
As first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday morning, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Unga will not be allowed back into school until January at the earliest.
Jenkins said BYU's dean of students, Vern Heperi, made the decision after considering Unga's request for readmission in time for the 2010 season.
Because college athletes have five years to play four and because Unga's NCAA eligibility clock started in 2006, his redshirt year, he cannot play for BYU in 2011 even if he enrolls next year. He cannot apply to the NCAA for a sixth year due to hardship reasons because he is not sitting out due to injury.
Jenkins also said Wednesday that Keilani Moeaki, a member of the BYU women's basketball team and Unga's girlfriend and one-time fiancee, will also not be readmitted into school until January at the earliest.
Moeaki also withdrew from BYU on April 16, citing an honor code violation.
Unga has not publicly commented on the situation or his future plans since his withdrawal on the day BYU's 2010 winter semester concluded. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall issued a short statement Wednesday, saying, "Harvey has been a great teammate and valuable member of our program the past four seasons. I know returning to BYU to finish his degree is a high priority for him. We wish him the very best and offer our continued support."
Among other things, BYU's honor code forbids the use of alcohol and illicit drugs and students from having premarital sex.
Sources close to Unga say the 6-foot, 237-pound running back who would have been a senior this fall has explored the possibility of entering the NFL's supplemental draft in mid-July.
Jon Zimmer, of the NFL's Communications and Public Affairs department, said Monday no date for this year's supplemental draft has been determined. Nor has the deadline been set for players to apply for entry into the draft.
Last year's supplemental draft was held July 16. The mid-summer draft is for players who missed the deadline for April's NFL Draft or who have become ineligible since the deadline.
It is not a certainty that Unga would be taken in July's draft even if he does apply. Teams that select a player in the supplemental draft must forfeit a selection in the corresponding round of the following year's regular draft.
A few days after Unga withdrew, Mendenhall said in a Mountain West Conference coaches' teleconference that the former Timpview High star wanted to return to BYU.
"Harvey's first choice, and what he's fighting diligently for and trying to express to the administration at BYU, is that he wants to be back," the coach said. "This goes back to the decision he made to not declare for the [NFL] draft early and to stay at BYU. ... He loves our program and he wants to be here in the most desperate way. So that is his hope, that is his intent and that's what he'd like to do."
Without Unga, the Cougars will likely rely on juniors J.J. DiLuigi and Bryan Kariya to carry the load, along with promising freshman Joshua Quezada, who enrolled early so he could participate in spring ball.
Unga's Y. career over