When Yahoo! Sports released its extensive report on the illegal benefits scandal surrounding the Miami Hurricanes, seven players who were neither current nor former members of the team were also implicated. Among them were Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan.
On Thursday the University of Florida, after receiving approval from the NCAA, announced that both players were eligible for the 2011 season even though they were named in the report and may have received some form of improper benefits.
“We have been in communication with the NCAA and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports. Andre, Matt nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter.”
According to CBSSports.com, the NCAA’s decision to approve the eligibility of Debose, Patchan and a number of other players named in the report may have been due to the organization using it’s “limited immunity” clause.
“Limited immunity” is a little-known procedure granted to NCAA investigators to get information from a player “when such an individual otherwise might be declared ineligible for intercollegiate competition,” according to the NCAA Manual.
The NCAA’s vice president of enforcement Roe Lach, without being overly specific, told CBSSports.com‘ Dennis Dodd that her organization did take a special step in order to move forward with its investigation.
“The enforcement staff has been given, by the membership, a pretty important investigative tool,” Lach said. She added that they are able to use said tool “when we think that’s really our only shot of getting that information.”
While no one at the NCAA will confirm that limited immunity has been used in this case, one source close to the investigation told CBSSports.com that “apparently they chose to give these guys limited immunity … which means they’re all eligible.”
It is unknown whether or not the NCAA specifically used this concept with Debose and Patchan or if the organization simply determined that neither was involved to an extent that was worth pursuing considering the extreme breadth and depth of its investigation.