The NCAA has approved the waiver transfer request of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, the university announced Friday.

The NCAA’s decision makes Fields eligible to play for the Buckeyes in 2019.

“I am happy for Justin and his family,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “I also want to express my appreciation to the NCAA for its assistance in getting this matter resolved efficiently and with such a positive outcome for Justin.”

In a statement, Fields thanked the NCAA for approving the waiver and vowed to OSU fans to represent the university “in a professional and respectful manner.” He added, “I’m ready to move forward and embrace the next season of my life.”

Fields was the consensus No. 2 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. He trailed only Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who helped lead the Tigers to the College Football Playoff championship last season.

Fields played last season for his home-state Georgia Bulldogs. He had hoped to unseat sophomore Jake Fromm, who was the quarterback on the Georgia team that lost to Alabama in the 2017 CFP championship game. But Fromm held off Fields’ challenge, and Fields decided to transfer.

Fields completed 27 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns without an interception for the Bulldogs last season. He also ran 42 times for 266 yards and four touchdowns.

“The lion’s share of the credit for Justin being eligible belongs to (athletic director) Gene Smith, Ryan Day and OSU Compliance. I just played a supporting role in this endeavor,” said Fields’ attorney, Tom Mars.

“Based on my experience, I’d have to say that Ohio State’s approach to handling this waiver request should be a model for other schools. Working with Justin Kume, the head of football compliance, was like working with one of my law partners. I had numerous phone calls with coach Day, and every one of them was like speaking to the CEO of a public company.”

Fields enrolled at Ohio State at the start of spring semester last month. NCAA rules require transfers to sit out a year, but the organization has been increasingly lenient in granting waivers.

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Last year, the NCAA adopted language that indicated it would look favorably upon a transfer waiver request if there was anything that “directly impact(s) the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete” at his original institution.

In Fields’ case, a Georgia baseball player yelled racial slurs toward Fields at the Bulldogs’ September game against Tennessee. Mars told The Dispatch in early January that the incident wasn’t the only reason he was confident that a waiver would be issued.

“There’s more to it than that,” Mars said then.

Regarding his experience at Georgia, Fields in his statement said, “I have no regrets about my time at UGA and have no hard feelings for the school or football program. My overall experience at UGA was fully consistent with UGA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. …

“I will not be speaking about my transfer again. Instead, I will focus all of my attention on getting to work in the classroom and on the field — and doing whatever else I can to help my teammates as we prepare for the 2019 season.”

Fields is considered the front-runner to become the Ohio State starting quarterback, but it is not a sure thing. The Buckeyes also have redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin, who is healed from a torn knee ligament sustained at the end of his high school career. Baldwin was Day’s hand-picked recruit for the 2018 recruiting class and impressed teammates during bowl practice.

The Buckeyes’ only other scholarship quarterback is graduate transfer Chris Chugunov, who played in mop-up duty in one game last year.

Last year’s starter, Dwayne Haskins Jr., has entered the NFL draft and is likely to be the first quarterback selected. Tate Martell, the backup in 2018, transferred to the University of Miami following Fields’ arrival.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch