The Tyrann Mathieu saga at LSU entered a confusing new phase Monday amid conflicting reports about whether the banished former Heisman Trophy finalist will seek to return to the Tigers football team in 2013 or whether he would even have the option to do so.
According to LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent, Mathieu is eligible to enroll at LSU this fall as a student. Beyond that, Vincent said, the school would not speculate about Mathieu’s football future.
Vincent’s statement was aimed at directly refuting a Gannett report quoting LSU compliance officer Bo Bahnsen as saying that Mathieu is permanently ineligible to play football at LSU. Vincent said Bahnsen said he was quoted out of context.
“We (LSU) are not saying anything” regarding Mathieu’s future football eligibility, Vincent said. “We are not speculating.”
Later, Vincent tweeted: “To clarify: Tyrann Mathieu has the option to go to LSU as a student. #LSU is not speculating on his football future.”
Attempts to reach Bahnsen on Monday night were unsuccessful.
According to Advocate sources and an ESPN report, Mathieu has approached LSU about the possibility of returning to the team in 2013. Discussions have taken place, but the matter remained unresolved Monday, sources said.
Meanwhile, a report by the Times-Picayune disputed that possibility, quoting a source as saying that Mathieu will not return to LSU even as a student and that he is likely to transfer to McNeese State as early as Wednesday.
Mathieu visited McNeese on Friday, shortly after his dismissal from the LSU team was made public. Nicholls State, Jackson State and Prairie View have also been mentioned in various media reports as potential landing spots for Mathieu.
Officials at Southern said LSU has denied its request to speak to Mathieu about transferring there. Vincent said LSU will not comment on which schools it will grant a release to on Mathieu’s behalf.
Mathieu reportedly was dismissed for testing positive for drugs on more than one occasion. According to the LSU athletic department’s written substance abuse policy, Mathieu’s dismissal from the team would be in accordance with a person who has had a third positive test.
He will not play for LSU this season under any circumstances, and his scholarship has been revoked.
A summary of LSU’s drug policy is as follows:
First violation : Head coach is notified, parents are notified, student-athlete receives counseling and treatment and is subject to increased random drug tests.
Second violation : Student-athlete is withheld from team activities and competition until all medical evaluations are completed, and is suspended from up to 15 percent of countable contests (games) and/or 30 days.
Third violation : One year suspension from competition. The case may be appealed at the request of the head coach, but the student-athlete will be subject to routine drug tests if reinstated. If another positive drug test results, “permanent ineligibility to participate (in athletics) at LSU will result.”
LSU’s drug policy states it is the goal of the drug testing program to test each student-athlete a minimum of two times per year, either announced or unannounced.
Mathieu was suspended for the Auburn game last season for violation of unspecified team rules.
A starting cornerback and LSU’s prime punt returner last season, Mathieu finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year as a sophomore and won the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
He recorded six forced fumbles and two interceptions in 2011, scoring two touchdowns on defense and two on special teams.
Mathieu made multiple preseason All-America teams leading up to this season.
His suspension has left LSU to scramble to fill his role at cornerback with freshmen Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to take over for Mathieu on punt returns.
There have been comments on his Twitter page from Mathieu, who typically maintains a prolific online presence, since his suspension, a page that still includes a background photo of him in an LSU uniform.
The first was Friday night, when Mathieu tweeted that he was grateful to LSU and its fans, and that he would be the Tigers’ biggest fan on their national championship run.
Perhaps, though, the best advice for all concerned is the first word of Mathieu’s most recent tweet dated Saturday:
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