The addition of an in-state, four-star defensive back is usually huge news for your Washington State Cougars. The fact that said in-state, four-star defensive back is a walk-on makes the news much more interesting.
CougFan, citing unnamed sources, was first to report yesterday that Nick Rolovich and WSU added Ayden Hector to the team as a walk-on. The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson later confirmed the report through his sources. So, what’s the deal here?
Hector had originally signed with the Stanford Cardinal last season out of Eastside Catholic High School, but the Cardinal revoked his admission after a highly publicized—at least in the Seattle area—police investigation of an alleged sexual assault committed by Hector’s Eastside Catholic teammates. Charges were never filed in the case due to insufficient evidence, and Hector was never considered a suspect, only a witness — a fact he made public via Twitter.
Stanford pulled its scholarship after seeking more information on the alleged incident via a public records request. When the families of the accused and witnesses — including Hector’s family — sued to prevent the release of those records, Stanford decided it was best to part ways rather than essentially be sued by its own player.
So, WSU has now decided Hector is a player worth taking a chance on; presumably, the admissions office had to sign off on it, although it’s unclear how high up the chain Hector’s enrollment went. What we can infer is that Hector’s enrollment was, at least, considered problematic by other schools, otherwise he’d be on scholarship somewhere.
Hector’s talent is undeniable, and it’s especially valuable to a program such as WSU, which has had a willingness over the years to take on players with baggage in order to close the talent gap with its peers. It raises tough questions for a program: Does the player deserve another chance for something that happened when he was 16? Regardless of whether charges were filed, something happened, and the alleged victim has stood by her accusation. How much should it matter that he was an apparent bystander and not actually accused? It’s probably worth noting that one of the players who actually was accused of the assault is now a freshman scholarship player for the Washington Huskies; another of the accused had signed with the California Golden Bears, but he never made it to campus this fall.
There are other questions about Hector: Why isn’t he on the roster yet? Has he not been enrolled? Has he been enrolled and not working out with the team? Is this only a recent development? None of it was cleared up by Rolovich after practice on Friday: “We vetted both their backgrounds and felt like we could move forward with them joining the team.”
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