Don’t count Kristian Fulton out for the 2018 season just yet.
The suspended cornerback will have his appeal heard by the NCAA on Aug. 9, his attorney, Don Jackson, said during an interview with Matt Moscona on ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge on Tuesday afternoon.
The appeal, which will be conducted over the phone, is presently scheduled for next Thursday afternoon, Jackson added. A final decision could be reached that evening, if not the following morning.
“I’m very optimistic,” Jackson said. “I’m very positive. I think, candidly, that the initial decision was flawed based on limited information. The appeal was based on limited information. I believe that we’ve been able to, both through the expert witness that the Fulton family obtained and some of my own research, that we’ve found a good bit of information that I believe will impact this decision.
“I’m very optimistic that we’ll get a favorable determination and a modification of this penalty.”
Fulton, a former five-star recruit out of Rummel, is currently in the midst of serving a two-year suspension for attempting to tamper with an NCAA-mandated drug test. Jackson said he’s unearthed new evidence relating to due process in order to convince the NCAA to re-open the case.
Jackson, who has a long history of representing student athletes in cases against the NCAA, called the two-year suspension “unprecedented” in his experience. He repeatedly noted that Fulton would’ve been suspended for at most one year had he failed a test — which he didn’t, for what it’s worth.
“I’ve never seen a case in which a student athlete is suspended for two years for an effort to alter the integrity of a collection process,” Jackson said. “It’s an extraordinary severe sanction, particularly in light of the conduct here. The penalty just doesn’t match the action of this young man, and there’s some real due process considerations that we hope to address in this upcoming hearing.”
Part of said concern relates to the prescribed penalty itself as written in the NCAA regulation. Jackson argues that a two-year suspension is akin to a death sentence for a collegiate career, even though it only takes up half of a given player’s four years of eligibility.
“That’s in effect a career-ender,” Jackson said. “That in effect ends your career … Most student athletes in this situation would likely have packed it in by now and moved on. A two-year penalty is a career-ender. There’s no precedent for this.”
Fulton practiced with the team last season but hasn’t played since appearing in three games during his true freshman season in 2016. LSU officials, including Ed Orgeron, have been unable to comment on the pending matter dating back to last season.
Despite Jackson’s optimism, it’s unclear exactly what chances Fulton has to regain his eligibility for the coming season. Jackson said his goal is to have Fulton on the field for LSU’s season opener against Miami in September.
Getting Fulton eligible would be a tremendous boost for LSU’s secondary as the Tigers are presently looking for a cornerback to start opposite All-American sophomore Greedy Williams.
If ruled eligible, Fulton would immediately join a competition that includes the likes of graduate transfer Terence Alexander, true freshman Kelvin Joseph and sophomores Jontre Kirklin, Kary Vincent and Mannie Netherly.