Tom Sivert, 6-foot-2, pound wide ceiver from Montgomery College in Rockville, had a dream of making in from junior college to the Redskins through their recent tryout camp for free agents.
He beat the long odds, becoming one of 12 from among several hundred candidates invited to the Redskins' training camp in July.
But when he filled out a questionnaire for the Redskins preparatory to signing a contract, it was learned that he was still in college and thus ineligible to play more college football.
Montgomery coach Don Drown said he contacted a member of the University of Maryland staff after the tryout camp and alerted the Terrapins to Sivert's potential as a prospect.
But, Drown said, when the Maryland scout contacted the Redskins and found out that Sivert had tried out with them, he told Drown that Sivert was ineligible to play at Maryland.
Drown said, "I think the Redskins made a mistake in letting Sivert try out when he was not eligible for pro ball. The kid (Sivert) goofed by going down there for a tryout and the Redskins goofed too. Now, Maryland is no longer interested in him."
Dicky Myers, administrative assistant of the Redskins, said, "We get a couple hundred-plus candidates for these tryouts. We can't check them all.We cited in our press releases that if a candidate had college eligibility remaining he was not aware.
"It happens on numerous occasions that we get ineligible candidates, but we usually find out on the field. We liked Sivert. We offered him a contract. But subsequently information - when he filled out costomary papers - indicated he was not eligible and no contract was consummated.
"It would be a shame if he was barred from trying to play at Maryland."
Coach Jerry Claiborne of Maryland said," We did not recruit the youngster.
"We didn't offer him a grant-in-aid; his name is not on our list to sign. One of my staff might have talked to Sivert or his coach but our staff is not here today."
Claiborne said he was familiar with the NCAA rules barring such a tryout by Sivert.
Bill Hunt, executive assistant in the rules enforcement department at NCAA headquarters in Shawnee Mission, Kan., said that a full-time student-athlete must not try out for a pro team any time during the academic year. He may at other times, if he is not paid expenses or any other money. (The Redskins do not pay expenses to candidates at the tryout camps for free agents.)
Hunt said that if Sivert wants to continue his college athletic career he may appeal to the NCAA eligibility committee.
Drown said Sivert was under the impression that he would be eligible to try for the Redskins after he graduates from the two-year college in June.
A spokesman for the National Football League said that Sivert will not be eligible for pro ball until he either graduates from four years of college, uses up all his college athletic eligibility, or five years from the date he enrolled at Montgomery.
Sivert is a member of the Montgomery basketball team but his apparent ineligibility for further college football does not preclude his participating in other college sports.