TAMPA — The promising but turbulent USF career of running back Mike Ford came to an abrupt end Wednesday.
The senior has been dismissed from the football team for an unspecified violation of team rules, football coach Skip Holtz announced.
"I am disappointed for Mike more than anything else," Holtz said in a statement. "I hope that he learns some important life lessons from this experience at USF. A lot of people care deeply for him. He needs to realize that he can respond to this adversity in a positive way and still fulfill many of his goals as a person, student and football player."
Ford's three years at USF were marked by bursts of promise mitigated by off-field problems. He rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown in his last game on Jan. 2, USF's win against Northern Illinois at the International Bowl in Toronto, and fans had lobbied for him to become an every-down back in 2010.
"To all of my family, friends and fans, I made a mistake that I really, really regret and I apologize for that," Ford said in a statement. "I am responsible for my own actions. Please forgive me for I am only human. This will not be the last of Mike Ford. I will continue my dream, and I will graduate. Thank you to coach Jim Leavitt, coach Skip Holtz and coach Carl Franks. Once again, I apologize and will continue to push forward."
Ford had been suspended for one game in 2007 for missing classes and the first two of 2009 for a violation of team rules. He has also been arrested twice on driving-related infractions, most recently in December.
Ford would have competed for a starting role in 2010, but the Bulls are deep at running back. Starter Mo Plancher is applying for a sixth year of eligibility, and USF should have nine other scholarship running backs.
Ford could enter the NFL's supplemental draft, but if he wants to play in the fall, his only options would be Division II or NAIA.
POTENTIAL TRANSFER: The Bulls will get an unofficial visit Friday from Donald Bowens, a St. Petersburg High graduate and former N.C. State receiver who graduates from NCSU in the spring and is interested in playing his final season at USF.
"I'd love to be at home for my final college season," said Bowens, who missed the 2008 season and the start of 2009 with knee and lower-back injuries.
Bowens, 6 feet 3, 195 pounds, said USF is the only Division I-A school he's considering. In 2007, he led N.C. State with 41 catches for 598 yards and three touchdowns, including an 11-catch, 202-yard, two-TD game against Virginia. Last season, he had 12 catches for 175 yards and one score.
Florida state: Sophomore receiver/defensive back Avis Commack, who had been working out with the track team, broke his right femur Tuesday and had surgery, the school said. He's expected to be out 12 weeks.
Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report.