Youngstown State football opens the 2017 season in less than 25 days, yet some in the administration have no idea what to do about a particular walk-on.
Ma’lik Richmond was one of two football players convicted in the 2012 Steubenville rape case that made national news. After serving a one-year sentence in a juvenile detention center, Richmond rejoined his high school football team for his senior season in the fall of 2014.
Following stints at Potomac State College and California University of Pennsylvania upon graduating high school, Richmond enrolled at Youngstown State University to further his education. After one semester, YSU head coach Bo Pelini reached out to Richmond’s former high school coach to gauge his feelings on the young man; Richmond tried out for the team in January.
Fast-forward to August of 2017 and Richmond’s a walk-on to the roster. A petition was started by a fellow YSU student to remove Richmond from the team shortly thereafter. Within days, nearly 10,000 people signed the petition, prompting the university to take action.
An excerpt from the university’s statement reads as follows. It can be found in its entirety on the Youngstown State University Facebook page.
“He continues to be in good standing on the YSU campus. YSU does not restrict any student’s ability to take part in extracurricular activities as long as they are in good standing with the institution. YSU believes that extracurricular activities assist in a student’s ability to succeed. For the Fall 2017 football season, Ma’lik will not be permitted to compete in any games, but will continue to be a part of the football program as a practice player, forfeiting a year of eligibility.”
I’m not here to argue whether he should be eligible to play or not, but why is the administration releasing this statement now? Pressure from their students and surrounding community? We witnessed similar backlash after the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice was caught on tape hitting his then-fiancee.
So Richmond’s eligibility has been forfeited – for this season – but he’ll continue to be a part of the team. So what happens next year if he sticks around? Will Youngstown State go through all this flip-flopping again? Are they hoping the petition-signers forget about Richmond? Maybe once he’s out of the spotlight we can put him in some pads and a helmet to help us win football games.