Herschel Walker, admitting he'd met with a United States Football League team owner, said yesterday he plans to play next season at Georgia and that he was not made an offer to play in the USFL this year.
"As I stated at the Heisman banquet, and on numerous other occasions, I am planning to return to Georgia for my fourth year," said Walker, who as a junior ran for 1,752 yards, scored 17 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy.
There was widespread speculation yesterday that Walker was about to sign with the USFL's New Jersey Generals following reports in the Chicago Tribune and the Atlanta Constitution of multimillion dollar offers allegedly made to Walker by Generals owner J. Walter Duncan.
The Constitution said the offer involved a signing bonus of $1.5 million and $15 million for six years. The Tribune put it at $1 million a year.
In a copyright story in today's editions, the Boston Globe reported that, according to two sources "close to the negotiations," Walker signed a $5 million contract Thursday night with an agreement that he would have a 24-hour period of grace in which to change his mind.
The Globe reported that after signing the contract, Walker left the meeting with Duncan, apparently walked around the campus for two hours and returned to say he had changed his mind.
Walker could not be reached last night to respond to the story. Coach Vince Dooley said he had asked Walker flatly if he had done anything to jeopardize his eligibility and Walker told him, "No, absolutely not."
"I just can't believe this is true," Dooley said.
Jack Manton, an attorney and Walker's personal adviser, said, "I have no knowledge that Herschel Walker signed any contract."
Under NCAA rules, any player who signs a pro contract--regardless of whether it is legal or enforceable--automatically loses his eligibility.
"There have been lots of rumors--but I am used to rumors--and there really was no offer," Walker told an earlier news conference at the university's athletic dormitory.
Walker acknowledged meeting with Duncan Thursday in Athens. He said Manton requested the meeting to stop rumors of his turning pro.
"I'd heard $16.5 million, $15.9 million, but there never was an offer," Walker said. "I met with Mr. Duncan, yes. There's no doubt if I were interested in playing, they'd take me."
But Walker said he told Duncan early during the discussion that he would not play.
"I told him I would play professional football next year, and that's all he wanted to hear from me. No money was ever mentioned.
"I never considered it. I've matured a great deal here, and I've learned a great deal, and the more I've matured, the more I am going to be a better football player. I have no need (to play professionally) this year."
Duncan was unavailable for comment.