From Albuquerque —
On Wednesday it was widely reported that Washington State defensive end Kalafitoni Pole would not play in the New Mexico bowl and had been sent home. However, after practice on Thursday WSU coach Mike Leach said that is not the case.
“He’s here, he just had to take care of an academic issue. But he’s here,” Leach said.
UPDATE: Jessamyn McIntyre, WSU's sideline reporter, tweeted that Pole flew back to New Mexico today and has apparently taken care of his academic concerns.
Update: Toni Pole was on the same charter as I was and is back in New Mexico. Sources tell me he's expected to play in the Bowl #GoCougs— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynESPN) December 19, 2013
More after the jump.
Leach also said that Pole will be the team’s starting defensive end on Saturday. Pole started at defensive end for the Cougars for most of the season, but did not start either of the team’s final two games.
Pole was not at WSU's noon practice on Thursday, and Destiny Vaeao appeared to be taking snaps with the first-team defense in Pole’s place.
WSU athletic director Bill Moos told the Spokesman-Review that if a player is found to be academically ineligible, they must be sent home from the bowl site as soon as is feasible. To be eligible, players must complete a minimum of six credit hours.