I spoke with five-star quarterback David Cornwell of Norman (Okla.) North High School this afternoon regarding his fight for eligibility against the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletics Association (OSSAA). Cornwell is a 6'5, 230-pound phenom with good athleticism and a huge arm. He is believed to be Alabama's top quarterback target, and is also No. 1 on the board for several other major schools. Attorney Mitch McCuistian, Cornwell's counsel, also joined in on the call.
Cornwell's appeal was to be heard Tuesday, but the issue was tabled, pending a special hearing at the Cornwell's request on June 12th. It is also possible that Cornwell could be ruled eligible on or before that date, eliminating the need for the special hearing.
After the OSSAA elected to table the matter, the Cornwells met with an OSSAA investigator and staff and discussed the matter. They handed over supporting documentation, including his mother's medical records. McCuistian said that the family wants to keep the nature of her illness private. He also indicated that the Cornwells did not offer a new theory or present new information, only that they provided the supporting documentation as requested by the OSSAA.
The Cornwells are very confident that they meet all criteria for the extra semester of eligibility, as outlined in the OSSAA's constitution.
I asked McCuistian if the OSSAA's theory is that the special circumstance preventing athletic participation and academic progress (in this case, illness), had to be suffered by the student athlete himself and not a parent or relative. McCuistian said he could only guess at the OSSAA's thoughts on the matter.
I also asked Cornwell if his plan was to be home-schooled before his mother became ill. He indicated that was the case, but once she became ill, he was unable to think about school or athletics, as he was caring for her. Duval County (Fla.) allows students to participate in high school athletics for a school of their choosing. In Cornwell's case, the school was to be Ponte Vedra High School.
Cornwell said that he does not have a Plan B, and that he and his family are fully confident he will be eligible, because they believe he meets all of the requirements as set out in the OSSAA constitution.
At the end of the call, Cornwell noted that he loves football, that family comes first for him and that he does not regret taking care of his mother in her fight with her medical issue, and that he wants to play his senior season to try and win a state championship.
Also of note: this is not an issue of age. Cornwell is 18, and turns 19 on October 20, so Oklahoma's rule prohibiting athletes who are 20 years or older from competing in high school sports is inapplicable.