HOUSTON – The NCAA has granted a sixth year of eligibility to Houston quarterback Case Keenum, who missed the final nine games of the 2010 season with a torn knee ligament.
The NCAA's decision was first reported by KRIV-TV. The school announced it on Friday.
Keenum was nearing several NCAA career records when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while attempting a tackle in a 31-13 loss at UCLA on Sept. 18. That came a week after a mild concussion in a win over UTEP.
The school announced in mid-October that it would ask the NCAA to grant Keenum another year. Houston lost six of nine games after Keenum went out and finished 5-7.
"I've been on pins and needles, but it's definitely paid off," Keenum said. "I'm super-excited. It's going to be a great year."
The NCAA grants a sixth year of eligibility only if a player has missed two seasons because of an injury or circumstances beyond the player's control. Keenum was granted a medical redshirt in 2006 because of a separated shoulder sustained late in his senior season in high school.
Keenum doubted he would earn the extra year and was laying out a plan to prepare for the NFL draft. Houston coach Kevin Sumlin called him on Friday to tell him that the NCAA was giving him another season in college.
"Honestly, I assumed that I wasn't going to get it and I just hoped for the best," Keenum said. "I kind of planned for not getting it, so I wouldn't get my hopes too high. But I'm just excited and really thankful."
Sumlin said he hasn't yet mapped out a workout plan to get Keenum ready for next season. The team has a meeting on Monday night and spring practices begin in March. The Cougars' spring game is April 9.
"We'll have plenty of time to figure out where he is and what we're doing," Sumlin said. "There's been no timetable set. Our conversations were more personal in nature than about his career and whatever is going to go on this semester and next semester."
Keenum led the nation in total offense (5,829 yards) and yards passing (5,671) in 2009. He made three starts in 2010 before his injury and ranks fifth in passing in Division I-A history. He needs 3,487 yards to surpass Tim Chang's career mark (17,072) and is 28 TD passes shy of Graham Harrell's career record (134).
"I feel like this is my life here in Houston and being a Cougar," Keenum said. "To be able to give that back and kind of get a shot at finishing some unfinished business. The goals I set out to do, I wanted to finish. To be able to do that, it's incredible."
The Cougars led the nation in total offense (563.4 yards per game) and scoring (42.1 points per game) and finished 10-4. Houston went 26-14 with Keenum taking most of the snaps between 2007-09.
"It's been a long process," Sumlin said. "I'm out recruiting right now, but obviously, for us, we've got the best recruit we could get for next year."