Butler dealt two more defeats in eligibility quest

After back-to-back knockout blows, Eric Butler’s chances of playing football for Kansas University this season are all but dead.

Butler has been clashing with the NCAA since the end of last season over the chance at more eligibility. Though he played just two years of college football, he started college five years ago, meaning his eligibility clock expired after last season.

A final, last-minute appeal – with the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee – was denied Monday, forcing Butler off KU’s practice fields. A lawsuit against the NCAA, which was put on hold during the final appeals process, then was re-opened immediately in attempts to get an injunction that would allow him to continue practicing.

That was denied Tuesday afternoon – leaving him few quick-fix options to get back on the team anytime soon.

Butler’s attorney, Taurn Mehta, declined comment when reached Tuesday evening.

Tuesday’s ruling was devastating toward Butler’s chances, but even if the court-ordered injunction was approved, it would have been a huge risk for KU to play Butler in a game this year. If the injunction would’ve been overturned down the road, KU possibly would have had to forfeit any games Butler played in.

That’s a moot point now.

“I think it’s unfortunate for Eric,” associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said. “We wished the appeal for the NCAA had been successful, but it wasn’t. Everybody’s going to have to move on now.”

With no immediate relief in sight, Mehta was asked if Butler would drop the lawsuit, considering the compensation sought wasn’t much more than the opportunity to play this year. Mehta wouldn’t say.

Butler’s saga has been ongoing for months, with numerous hoops and hurdles getting in the defensive tackle’s way. Slowly, the story started garnering national attention, with Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com and USA Today recently making mention of it.

The increased exposure was due to the uniqueness of Butler’s lawsuit. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court against the NCAA and KU on July 31, claimed the association discriminated against Butler on the basis of gender. Butler claims he should be granted a sixth year of eligibility based on the pregnancy waiver, which allows females a year off “for reasons of pregnancy.” Butler contends that should apply to males, as well.

Butler and his wife, Chantel, had a child in 2001, and Butler dropped out of school to care for his family. He later enrolled at Avila University and played one season of football there before transferring to KU.

His one season at KU was memorable. In a reserve role, Butler played in all 12 games last season and compiled 12 tackles and two sacks. One of the stops was a sack of Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor in the end zone for a safety. That play helped snap a 36-game losing streak against the Huskers.

KU coach Mark Mangino said in July the coaching staff was planning on not having Butler in ’06, and a post-spring depth chart omitting the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Butler confirms it.

Senior Wayne Wilder and junior James McClinton are expected to start at defensive tackle, with sophomore Todd Haselhorst and freshman Caleb Blakesley providing depth.