Whitman County judge David Frazier has overturned Washington State nose tackle Robert Barber’s suspension by the university by issuing a conditional stay. He is eligible to return to the classroom and return to the football team, effectively immediately, reports Jacob Thorpe of the Spokesman Review.
Barber was represented by attorney Stephen Graham, who argued that the Washington State Student Conduct Board did not follow its own rules in its handling of Barber’s expulsion, which was dropped to a suspension upon appeal. Questions that WSU football staff member Antonio Huffman and Barber submitted to the SCB were destroyed following the appeal, which appears to have tilted the case in Barber’s favor.
Two weeks ago, Barber’s case was heard by the WSU Board of Regents, a well-attended hearing that triggered heated debates between Barber advocates and others in the WSU community. At that time, the board acknowledged that a plan was in place for Barber, who has just one credit left to graduate, to finish his classes off-campus and walk with his class this December.
For now, as long as Barber follows the conditions of this stay—no parties, no drugs and no contact with the victims cited in the SCB case—he can get back in the classroom to finish his degree and return to the football field for the Washington State Cougars. Whether or not he will have an impact this weekend in Colorado will certainly depend on the level of fitness he has maintained throughout his suspension.
In response to the ruling, WSU director of athletics Bill Moos maintained the neutral posture he’s kept during this entire process.
“We certainly respect today’s decision by the Whitman County Superior Court,” said Moos. “With Robert being reinstated as a student in good standing, he will be afforded all the privileges as his fellow students, including the opportunity to complete his degree and participate with the Cougar football team. As for his playing status, that will be determined by Coach Leach.
“As there is still a legal matter pending, I will have no further comment on this situation.”
The legal matter, of course, is the pending review of the recommendation of charges in this case by the Whitman County prosecutor. The Pullman Police department recommended charges nearly two months ago, yet the prosecutor still has not formally filed charges against Barber and teammate T.J. Fehoko.
As you’d imagine, Barber is pretty happy.
Great pic and post by Robert Barber after today's ruling #GoCougs #Wazzu pic.twitter.com/qknKqvEwMo— COUGFANcom (@COUGFANcom) November 16, 2016