TUSCALOOSA _ The National Collegiate Athletic Association has cleared University of Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram and wide receiver Julio Jones to play in Saturday's game against Virginia Tech after making restitution for essentially receiving an illegal gift.
The NCAA issued the following statement Wednesday evening:
"The NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff has reinstated the eligibility of University of Alabama football student-athletes Julio Jones and Mark Ingram based on a condition of repayment.
"According to the facts of the case submitted by Alabama, the student-athletes received impermissible food, lodging, transportation and entertainment from an individual with whom one of the student-athletes had become acquainted prior to enrolling in college.
"Consistent with NCAA membership requirements, the institution reported the violation and declared the student-athletes ineligible. As part of the reinstatement request, the institution required the student-athletes to make repayment of the value of the impermissible benefits to charity.
"During the reinstatement process, the NCAA staff considers a number of factors including guidelines established by the NCAA Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, relevant case precedent, the student-athlete's responsibility for the violation, as well as any mitigating factors presented by the institution."
At issue was a fishing trip with Curtis Anderson, non-booster from Athens. While the school did impose a suspension, the NCAA statement was the first time it was disclosed that the players had been declared ineligible.
Both Ingram and Jones have practiced with the other starters all week in preparation to play the Hokies.
"We are gratified that this matter has been resolved," athletic director Mal Moore said in a statement. "Our compliance department, the SEC and the NCAA worked closely throughout this process and we appreciate the professional manner in which it was handled."
Earlier in the day, Coach Nick Saban deflected any questions about their eligibility.
"That is up to the NCAA," Saban said. "I don't think it's my decision to do anything. We are hoping for a response and we want to do what we need to do to do things the right way from a program standpoint and for the players' best interest. I think the institution has handled the situation with tremendous professional integrity. We're hopeful that we'll have some kind of resolution to this situation in the short term."
Less than two days after Brandon Deaderick was shot in the left arm during a failed robbery attempt, the senior defensive end was back at practice, wearing a black jersey signaling to contact.
"It's amazing to me, from a medical standpoint, the extent of his injury is not that significant," Saban said. "He has a great attitude about trying to come out to do stuff and be with the team. We're going to take his situation day-by-day and each day he'll probably do a little bit more. "He wants to play, but we're not going to put any player at risk, relative to their future or the situation they're in."
Sophomore Marcell Dareus is expected to start in his place Saturday, but Alabama hasn't had to make any major changes to its defensive game plan.
"It might have been a couple of years ago when we were lacking a lot of depth," senior linebacker Cory Reamer said. "We have so many front-seven guys (now).
"Brandon Deaderick is a great football player, but we have a lot of guys who can fill in, who know what they're doing, so we're not going to have to make huge adjustments."
Reamer returned to practice after being out two days with the flu.
"Feeling good," he said. "I was glad to be out of the house, being on lock-down for three days was no fun, knowing that everyone else was out here practicing. Now I just have to get the rest of it out of me. Hopefully it'll be gone by tomorrow and (I'll) be ready for Saturday."
Because it's the season opener and most of the defense was installed before he started to feel ill on Sunday, Reamer will likely start if he's physically ready.
Alabama practiced again in the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility. "We're going to play (the game) indoors, it wasn't that hot this week and it's the same surface," Saban said. "It gives us n opportunity to do a little better job of recovering."
Senior nose guard Terrence Cody is still not under 350 pounds, so won't be used in passing situations against Tech.
Saban on who will be the backup quarterback Saturday: "Star (Jackson) has done a good job and if an opportunity to play him presents itself, we'll play him. He doesn't have a lot of experience, but neither does Thomas Darrah. I'm not going to get into comparing guys, but Star has made a lot of improvement and progress."