Illinois TE Ford hires attorney for NCAA waiver case

Field Level Media

April 29, 2019 at 4:36 pm.

The family of former Georgia tight end Luke Ford has hired a prominent attorney to help him earn the right to play immediately at his new school, Illinois.

The Fords, of Carterville, Ill., have hired Tom Mars, who helped quarterbacks Shea Patterson and Justin Fields win their waiver cases as they sought to transfer from SEC schools to Big Ten programs.

“Clearly, there’s one attorney who knows the ins and outs of working thru the NCAA’s bureaucracy,” Luke’s father, Tim Ford, said in a message to the Illini Inquirer. “That’s attorney Tom Mars.”

The NCAA denied Ford’s application for a family hardship waiver. Ford played in just one game last season for Georgia and said he transferred to be closer to his grandfather, who is in failing health.

The NCAA said Ford didn’t qualify for a waiver because the family home is 193 miles from the Illinois campus, which is beyond the 100-mile radius requirement. His grandfather also is not an immediate family member.

Last week, the NCAA also denied the waiver request from offensive lineman Brock Hoffman, who is transferring from Coastal Carolina to Virginia Tech. Hoffman said he needed to be closer to his mother, who had surgery in 2017 for a brain tumor.

The NCAA noted geography again in its reasoning — his family home is 105 miles from Virginia Tech, just outside the radius — and cited the fact that his mother’s health is improving instead of deteriorating.

Mars said he sees hope for both players.

“For the first time since I’ve been involved in helping student-athletes, the public outcry in reaction to these two waiver decisions is far too loud to be ignored. It might take awhile, but I’m confident the leadership of the various organizations involved will find a legitimate path forward that leads to Brock and Luke receiving waivers,” Mars told The Athletic.