Conway, AR – Conway, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - Central Arkansas linebacker Justin Heard was reinstated to the football program Wednesday, although he must still serve one more game of a three-game suspension for an NCAA violation concerning his book scholarship.
Heard, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound middle linebacker from Woodland, Ala., won't play Saturday against Nebraska-Kearney but can return to practice this week. He will be eligible to play again on Oct. 19 when the Bears travel to Lamar.
Heard, who has already graduated with a degree in sociology, broke NCAA rules by purchasing his brother, Josh, who is also a member of the team, textbooks. He did not participate against Missouri State on Sept. 21 or McNeese State this past Saturday.
"At the beginning of the semester, Justin made a serious error in judgment with regard to his book scholarship," UCA head coach Clint Conque said. "Upon learning of this situation, he was immediately suspended from the football team pending an investigation of this matter by our institution.
"This university takes violations of any kind extremely seriously. And upon completing the investigation, we made a recommendation to the Southland Conference and the NCAA. Both governing bodies agreed with our assessment of the situation and our penalty of a three-game suspension for the student- athlete.
"Justin has been a vital part of our football program for five years, he's a college graduate. This was a serious error in judgment. He's very remorseful."
Heard was leading the team in tackles through the first three games this season.
The 20th-ranked Bears have a 2-3 record.