Blount banned through at least Nov. 7

Updated: October 2, 2009, 8:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount's season-long suspension for punching an opponent could be lifted if he meets certain conditions, coach Chip Kelly said.

"It's not a football decision, it's a human being decision. It's about that individual," Kelly said Friday. "And he's got a lot of things he's got to do."

Blount punched Boise State's Byron Hout in the aftermath of Oregon's 19-8 season-opening loss to the Broncos. The suspension banned him from games, but Blount was allowed to remain on scholarship and practice with the team.

Kelly said he set down academic, behavioral and football-related "ladders" that Blount must achieve for possible reinstatement, but he did not provide specifics. Academics could not be addressed earlier because classes had not started.

Blount signed an agreement outlining the requirements last week.

Should Blount meet the conditions, the earliest he could return to the team is Oregon's Nov. 7 game at Stanford -- and there is no guarantee that he would be allowed back at that time, if at all.

"There's a distinct possibility he'll never play football here again," Kelly said. "But the ball is in LeGarrette's court."

Blount could not be reached for comment on Friday. Following his suspension, he was told not to speak to the media.

Kelly said he reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards and former NFL coach Tony Dungy before revising the conditions of Blount's suspension.

The university said in a statement that athletic director Mike Bellotti and President Richard Lariviere had been involved in the process. Oregon was also in contact with Pacific-10 Conference commissioner Larry Scott.

Scott was expected to make a statement regarding Kelly's decision later Friday.

The school said if and when a decision is made to reinstate Blount, that decision will be forwarded to the Pac-10 for final approval.

Told of the possibility of reinstatement for her son, Barbara Blount said Friday: "I'm thrilled for LeGarrette. It's awesome. I'm numb to be honest with you."

Blount's little league football coach and mentor, Wayne Dunwoody, said: "I'm glad LeGarrette still has a chance to see all his dreams come true. Everyone deserves a second chance."

Hout was dropped to his knees by Blount's punch following the Ducks' Sept. 3 loss to the Broncos on national television.

Kelly suspended Blount for the rest of the season the next day. Because he is a senior, the suspension effectively ended Blount's college career.

On Thursday, the university newspaper published a letter of apology from Blount. In it, he offered his "sincerest apologies and heartfelt regrets."

"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 said Friday that the call was Blount's idea.

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, 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.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad was used in this report.

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