After a couple of days of mixed signals, the NCAA told the former Bearcats' quarterback that it had turned him down for the fourth time. Now, Mauk will appeal directly to the NCAA's reinstatement committee for another season.
Mauk will talk to the reinstatement committee by phone on Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the Bearcats open their season at home against Eastern Kentucky. He expects a decision either later in the day or on Friday.
"We were hoping they would find in our favor, but I think it's the reinstatement committee that we really need to talk to," said Kevin Murphy, who is Mauk's lawyer. "The staff pretty much did what it has done in the past in this case, but the reinstatement committee has the authority to make its own decision. So that's where our hope lies."
Mauk led the Bearcats to 10 wins and a No. 17 final ranking last season, when he came back from serious shoulder and arm injuries. He appealed for another season on grounds that injuries had sidelined while he was at Wake Forest.
After being turned down three times, Mauk filed a lawsuit in an Ohio court and got a temporary restraining order against the NCAA, which then agreed to reconsider.
The case fell into confusion this week. Mauk's lawyer was told by an NCAA representative on Monday night that the latest appeal had been turned down. The representative called back a day later and apologized, saying the staff hadn't reached a final decision yet.
On Wednesday, the association said the decision was final after all.
"The mistake they made was very hurtful," Murphy said. "That was tough on Ben. To be told it was denied, then no, wait, then to be denied again, was a terrible experience."
An NCAA spokeswoman didn't return telephone and e-mail messages.
Mauk initially appealed for another season because of the dislocated shoulder and broken passing arm he suffered in the season opener at Wake Forest in 2006. When that argument was rejected, he contended that he had to redshirt his freshman year at Wake Forest because of injury and should get another season for that reason.
That argument has been rejected, too.
Mauk transferred from Wake Forest to Cincinnati for his graduate studies, rehabilitated his shoulder and led the Bearcats to their breakthrough season. He threw for 31 touchdowns and 3,121 yards even though scar tissue forced him to miss an entire game and part of another.
Senior Dustin Grutza, who was Mauk's backup last season, will start for the Bearcats on Thursday night.