Quarterback Jeff Burger of Auburn, the leading passer in the Southeastern Conference, and his teammate, offensive tackle Jim Thompson, were declared ineligible Wednesday after the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. said they broke a rule by taking a free flight to go hunting with a family friend of Thompson's.
Their eligibility could be restored by the NCAA on appeal--even in time for Auburn's SEC showdown with Florida Saturday night--but it was uncertain when, or how, the NCAA might respond.
Auburn was notified that an Oct. 11 trip to south Alabama on a private plane was considered a violation of the "extra benefits" rule by the NCAA, said David Housel, the school's sports information director.
The week after the hunting trip, Burger, who has had two other brushes with ineligibility this year, led Auburn to a comeback victory at Georgia Tech.
Coach Pat Dye, however, did not learn of the trip and its possible ramifications until almost a week after the game, and it is not certain if the Tigers will have to forfeit the Tech game if Burger and Thompson are ultimately ruled ineligible.