The NCAA has cleared North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones to play in the Independence Bowl, Tar Heels coach Everett Withers said today.
UNC received word from the NCAA that Jones had been cleared before the start of practice the Tar Heels final one here before leaving on Thursday for Shreveport, La., where they will play against Missouri on Dec. 26.
UNC had declared Jones ineligible after he allowed his name and likeness to be used to promote a New Years Eve birthday party in his honor at a club in Burlington, Jones hometown. By allowing his name and image to be used on flier promoting the party, Jones had committed a secondary NCAA violation.
After the flier with Jones image surfaced on Monday on the popular sports website Deadspin.com, Withers and other UNC officials began talks with the NCAA about Jones status. UNC announced on Tuesday that it had ruled Jones ineligible, and that it had applied with the NCAA for his reinstatement.
It was very matter of fact, Withers said of the conversations with the NCAA. But we felt like we could get something done pretty quick.
Jones, a senior, has been UNCs leading receiver for the past two seasons. Entering the Independence Bowl, he has caught 79 passes for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Withers said he and his staff had started to plan to compete in the bowl game without Jones.
"But thankfully we don't have to do that," Withers said. "... I'm very happy."