Potential LSU starting cornerback Kristian Fulton was reinstated by the NCAA, coach Ed Orgeron said Thursday, concluding a nearly 19-month compliance battle that began when Fulton was caught using another person’s urine during a drug test.
The reversal — a boon for LSU's secondary — came after athletic director Joe Alleva sent a four-page letter on Aug. 17 to an NCAA interpretive staff, requesting the governing body to reclassify Fulton’s violation to a “urine substitution,” which carries a one-year suspension instead of a "tampering rule," which was the NCAA's initial ruling and carries a two-year suspension.
The NCAA notified LSU on Thursday it would reclassify the violation and that Fulton would be eligible, effective immediately — pending a standard reinstatement drug exam.
Earlier this month, an NCAA committee denied an appeal made by Fulton, his attorney and LSU.
LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton's suspension will continue into the 2018 season as the NCAA denied an appeal Thursday of his two-year punishmen…
“There’s a reason I fought so hard for this young man; it’s because he kept fighting,” Alleva said. “He’s never quit. We weren’t about to either. This was a team effort with our compliance staff, our legal team, our entire administration. I couldn’t be happier for the young man and for our team.”
Don Jackson, the Fulton family's attorney, worked in tandem with the university, and he had taken on Fulton's case since July 2017.
"(Fulton) can go back to living out a dream that he's had his entire life," Jackson said.
"I fight with the NCAA quite often," Jackson added, "and I've got to say, I'm feeling grateful for them undoing this harsh sanction. They did the right thing, and I'm truly grateful that they let this young man get his life back and get back on the field."
Orgeron began his weekly press conference Thursday evening by announcing the news; he said Alleva had just told him on the practice field.
Orgeron said he was “elated” and complimented Fulton for “practicing here every day like he was a starter.” The coach said at the start of preseason camp that Fulton, the nation’s No.1-rated cornerback coming out of Archbishop Rummel in 2016, could start opposite preseason All-American Greedy Williams.
“I’m so proud of the young man, and I know our team is going to be elated,” Orgeron said. “It’s the ultimate story of competing.”
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Fulton began camp practicing with the first- and second-team defenses; he has been with the second team since his appeal was denied on Aug. 9.
Orgeron said the news was too recent to say exactly what changes will be made on defense now that Fulton is available.
“Obviously, it’s something that will affect some of the things that we’ll do,” Orgeron said. “We’ve made some adjustments, because we didn’t know whether he was going to be there or not. Obviously, he will now be a factor as soon as we can play him.”
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva spoke on several topics Wednesday morning on the radio show Sports Today on 104.5 FM WNXX, including LSU's ne…
Fulton learned the news himself while in the football locker room after practice.
Williams recorded the team’s celebration on a live video stream, which showed a teammate picking up Fulton and carrying him across the locker room.
“They freed my dude!” Williams said. “It’s up. They freed my bro!”
LSU players went nuts as they learned of the surprise announcement that the NCAA had reinstated defensive back Kristian Fulton.
Fulton tweeted his own announcement at 8:05 p.m.: “First Day Out nobody but GOD!”
😈 First Day Out nobody but GOD!— 2️⃣2️⃣ (@Kriss1_) August 24, 2018
Fulton played in three games in 2016, recording two total tackles against Missouri and Southern Miss.
LSU opens the regular season Sept. 2 against Miami in Arlington, Texas.
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