Quarterback Phillip Sims leaving Virginia for academic reasons

One year after arriving at Virginia as a ballyhooed transfer, quarterback Phillip Sims is looking for another school again.

Coach Mike London announced Friday that Sims is academically ineligible and will no longer be enrolled at school following the completion of the current summer session. In a statement, London did not mince words as to why Sims, a former five-star recruit from Chesapeake, Va., won’t be with the program going forward.

“The thing we tell the young men who come to the University of Virginia to receive a world-class education and play for our football program is pretty simple,” London said. “Go to class. Show class and treat people with dignity and respect. Those directions are pretty easy to follow and they will lead you on a path of success.

“When an individual strays from those directions, it is very disappointing to me. Phillip Sims did not make the commitment he needed to succeed here. I appreciate his efforts last season. He is a very talented young man who is blessed with some extraordinary athletic abilities. I still believe Phillip Sims can and will be a successful person. We will do what we can to assist Phillip in continuing his academic and athletic opportunities elsewhere.”

On his Twitter account Friday afternoon, Sims wrote, “This is definitely not the end but sometimes you have to get knocked down to get back up & reach your dreams. I will be back. I promise that. For those who followed & supported me through it all, if I have let you down in any way, I sincerely apologize.”

Sims transferred to Virginia last May after losing a prolonged quarterback competition with A.J. McCarron at Alabama in 2011, when the Crimson Tide won the national championship. Once on campus, Sims successfully petitioned the NCAA for immediate eligibility, claiming he came to Charlottesville to be closer to his ailing father.

Many Cavaliers fans quickly hailed Sims as the program’s next starting signal caller since he had set Virginia state passing records during a prolific career at Oscar Smith High.

Last season, Sims started four games and completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 1,426 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions while splitting time with 2011 starter Michael Rocco. After Virginia finished with a 4-8 record for the second time in three years, Rocco transferred to Richmond largely because of how London handled the quarterback competition.

With Rocco gone, it was assumed Sims would again rise to the top of the depth chart. But he spent much of this spring playing with the third-team offense under new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, behind both sophomore David Watford and redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert.

London told reporters the pecking order was, in part, due to offseason work ethic, and Sims was not included on the team’s 12-member leadership council that includes both Watford and Lambert. Still, Virginia’s post-spring depth chart showed Sims in a three-way tie atop the depth chart.

It appears, however, talent could take Sims only so far. Watford and Lambert will enter training camp this August as Virginia’s two options at quarterback.

Mark Giannotto covers Virginia and Virginia Tech for The Washington Post.
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