BATON ROUGE, La. - The attorney representing John Emery Jr. intends to submit new information to the NCAA later this week in the hopes of restoring the junior running back’s academic eligibility by the time LSU plays Sept. 25 against Mississippi State.
Don Jackson, an Alabama-based attorney hired by Emery’s family, said Tuesday morning he will file a request for “reconsideration based upon ‘new information’” with the goal of having Emery reinstated before LSU’s first Southeastern Conference game.
“We're optimistic that when information is provided,” Jackson said, “we'll be able to get this decision reopened and hopefully have him on the field within the next two weeks.”
Emery hoped to have a breakout season as a versatile running back within LSU's new offense, but academic issues dating back to last fall weren’t resolved by the time the season started, Jackson confirmed.
The NCAA deemed Emery academically ineligible the day before LSU’s season opener. Emery hasn’t played in the last two games and will miss the rest of the season, coach Ed Orgeron confirmed Monday, unless his status changes.
Emery’s side believes extenuating circumstances over the past 18 months should result in a waiver, Jackson said. Within that time, Emery lost his grandmother to cancer, his step-father underwent a lengthy battle with COVID-19 that put him in the hospital on a ventilator and his mother tested positive for the virus. At the same time, classes moved online because of the pandemic.
“Our position,” Jackson said, “is that all of these factors would lean toward a waiver.”
Emery tried to regain sufficient academic standing this summer and was an honor student, Jackson said. LSU tried to get Emery a waiver because of his family's hardships. The NCAA denied the request.
After the NCAA’s ruling kept him out of the season opener, Emery practiced last week as he appealed the decision, but the NCAA upheld his academic ineligibility, preventing Emery from playing against McNeese State.
Emery’s family was told verbally of the decision last Friday, Jackson said, and hadn’t received written documentation as of Sunday night when they first reached out to Jackson.
Jackson has experience with reinstatements. He represented former LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton in Fulton’s complicated case with the NCAA that stemmed from attempting to tamper with a drug test. Fulton was reinstated in 2018, a year before the originally scheduled end of his two-year suspension as Jackson supplied "new information."
Using a similar process, Jackson said this week he's gathering additional documentation and statements about Emery’s academic standing and the struggles his family went through over the past 18 months. Jackson intends to submit the information by the end of the week to persuade the NCAA to reconsider.
“There are mitigating factors here that would contextualize his inability to satisfy those standards,” Jackson said. “And as a result of that, he should be afforded the opportunity to play this season. You can't punish someone. It's grossly unfair to punish a student athlete that's undergone the difficulties that he's undergone over the past 18 months.”