Ducks may reinstate Blount, school says
Kelly planned to speak to the media "to discuss elements of his plan that has been in place with senior running back LeGarrette Blount that could include Blount's potential reinstatement prior to the conclusion of the 2009 season," the school said in a statement Friday.
The suspended running back will have an opportunity to be reinstated to the program later this season, provided he continues to follow a plan set in place after the first game.
"After speaking with a number of nationally renowned professionals in the field, which included Dr. Harry Edwards and Tony Dungy, I came to the conclusion that leaving the door open for LeGarrette's potential return as an active player was the best solution," Kelly said Friday in a statement.
"He has a rigid set of conditions he must live up to and there are certainly no guarantees in place. This merely provides him the opportunity for my reconsideration in the future should he meet those demands."
Blount has been suspended since he punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout after Oregon's season-opening loss to the Broncos. On Thursday, the Oregon campus newspaper published a letter of apology from Blount.
Blount has been participating in Oregon practice as a member of the scout team and has been attending classes under scholarship.
"On a personal note, I probably will never be able to erase the memories of the post-game events of that day. Given this, I do not expect to be given a second chance to be a positive and responsible member of the football program and of this community," Blount said in the letter to the editor. "Going forward, what I hope for is the opportunity to show that I am able to earn a second chance as a University student. And if I am so fortunate, I believe that I also will demonstrate that I am a better man and a better human being for having lived through this unfortunate experience."
It was Blount's first public comment since an apology to reporters immediately following the Boise State game. Blount and Kelly called Boise State coach Chris Petersen and Hout soon after the suspension to apologize.
Kelly had previously said reinstatement was not an option. But Blount has impressed many people he's spoken with as part of the plan. Among those people are Dungy, who is serving as mentor to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick; former NFL coach and current ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden; former NBA player Kermit Washington; and Edwards, a professor emeritus at Cal-Berkeley.
There has been support for Blount among some of Oregon's fans. Students at last weekend's 42-3 upset of California at Autzen Stadium were seen wearing "Free Blount" T-shirts.
Blount recently became a father. A person familiar with Kelly's plan said the reinstatement would not come immediately and likely not before Oregon's bye week on Oct. 17.
It is also believed that Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti and school president Richard Lariviere are on board with the possibility for reinstatement, though it is not known to what extent the Pac-10 has been involved.
Blount, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound transfer from East Mississippi Community College, rushed for 1,002 yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns last season.
Oregon has won three straight games since the loss to the Broncos. The No. 16 Ducks host Washington State on Saturday.
Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.