LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Southern California wide receiver Mike Williams has had his request to be reinstated denied Thursday by the NCAA.
USC spokeswoman Vicky Hammond said the school had applied to the NCAA for a progress-toward-degree waiver and reinstatement of Williams' eligibility.
The ruling came down shortly before the top-ranked Trojans boarded an airplane for Baltimore. They open their season Saturday night against Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Williams caught 95 passes for 1,314 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns last season to help the Trojans (12-1) win the national championship.
The 20-year-old Williams, an sure-handed 6-foot-5, 230-pounder, finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a sophomore last year.
After a court ruled that Ohio State's Maurice Clarett was eligible to play in the NFL, Williams left USC in the spring, hired an agent and said he was turning pro. That made him ineligible to play for the Trojans.
He was projected as a high draft pick, but on May 24, an appeals court overturned the earlier ruling and upheld the NFL's right to bar players who had been out of high school for less than three years.
Williams has been out of high school less than three years, as has Clarett, who was suspended last season after starring at Ohio State as a freshman.
After the appeals court ruling, Williams severed ties with his agent and began the process of applying to the NCAA for reinstatement.
He returned to USC and took summer classes, seeking to have his academic eligibility also restored.