I hesitated whether to even write this, given that it's unlikely to change DeAngelo Casto's status for tonight's game, but it's something that's generated a lot of discussion and I think it's worth our time to try and bring some clarity to the situation.
Vince Grippi is reporting this morning that Casto, via his lawyer, entered a plea of innocent this morning to the charge of marijuana possession and is going to argue that the search that produced the citation was illegal:
"This case is never going to get to first base," Esser said in an interview Wednesday. "This case will be dismissed. There was absolutely no compliance with constitutional privacy interest requirements."
This just adds fuel to the fire for the crowd that would like to blame the Pullman Police Department for this entire mess. But while I certainly see the same issues many of you do -- Do I want cops able to spy into my window just because I'm missing a screen? Were they really just on foot patrol and just happened to look into a prominent basketball player's apartment? -- this changes absolutely nothing from a basketball perspective.
Casto had marijuana. Whether it was obtained legally by law enforcement is a completely separate issue, and frankly not relevant to the basketball team.
I'm not saying it's not an important issue. It is. As a left-leaning former journalism teacher with a journalism degree from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, I've spent a good portion of my life defending rights in the constitution, and I'm as troubled as many of you are by all the things that aren't really adding up here.
But it doesn't change the fact that Casto, at the very least, had pot. That alone is enough to bring embarrassment to the program and warrant the suspension handed down by Ken Bone, and it pisses me off that we're in this place again, regardless of whether the search was legal.
I've said it once, and I'll say it as many more times as is warranted by the dumbass behavior of our athletes:
DON'T SMOKE WEED AND YOU CAN'T GET BUSTED FOR SMOKING WEED.
DON'T HAVE ILLEGAL STUFF IN YOUR CAR. DON'T HAVE IT IN YOUR DORM. DON'T LIVE WHERE IT'S BEING GROWN. DON'T BE AROUND IT. EVER. EVER EVER EVER EVER. IF YOU'RE NOT DOING ILLEGAL STUFF, IT WON'T MATTER IF YOUR PLACE IS ILLEGALLY SEARCHED. YOU'LL STILL BE PLAYING BASKETBALL/FOOTBALL.
For what it's worth, Casto's attorney talked to Bone and asked him to remove the suspension pending the resolution of the case, given the questionable circumstances. Bone has yet to respond publicly to the request, but WSU Sports Information Director Bill Stevens told Grippi that the suspension remains in effect. I'd say any change in status at this point is nothing more than a longshot, since we've established that the way it was obtained is irrelevant as it pertains to team rules. But Esser wouldn't be doing his job as a lawyer if he didn't try for his client.
However, in reading the comments on the other thread and on Twitter, I do think a number of you raise an interesting point about the secondary issue of the search. If I'm a recruit, and I'm thinking of coming to Pullman, how am I evaluating all of this? It's one thing if a player is smoking in his dorm room, and that leads to his bust. At that point, I'm just thinking the player is awfully stupid.
But when a headlight being out leads to a bust - in your driveway, no less? That's starting to make me wonder. Couldn't the cop have just said, "Hey buddy, you've got a headlight out -- get that fixed, or it'll be a ticket next time"? And when I hear of a bust coming about because a cop was peeping in a window? Whether someone was actually doing the thing or whether it gets thrown out on a technicality is irrelevant to me -- I'm starting to wonder if I want to go to school at a place with such a hyperactive police force.
I start to wonder: Am I going to be next, even if I'm not doing anything? Very few of us were angels when we were in school, and while it might not have been marijuana, we all know that many of us were doing things that were illegal, even if considered cultural norms.
I think these are important questions to ask. The interesting thing -- to me, at least -- is that there was a clear line of demarcation about when all of this changed. I remember my first three years, the police overlooked a lot of things. I attended multiple courtyard parties at CCN before I lived there; I distinctly remember the cops showing up at my doorstep when I did live there to ask me and my roomates to turn our music down when soooooo much more could have happened.
Then the "riot" -- I use quotation marks because I'm not sure it fit the true definition -- happened, cops got hurt, and things were never the same. I also know the president before this one was all-too-eager to try and rid the school of its party image.
One has to wonder at what point all of this -- which, on its face, is designed to make the campus a safer place -- starts to actually negatively impact the university. Just some food for thought.