While regrettable, this incident gives us an opportunity to shine a light on UW's policy when it comes to alleged criminal activity among its athletes.
The relevant portion of the school's code of conduct for student athletes reads as follows:
"When a student-athlete has been arrested or charged with a violation of criminal law, the student-athlete will be placed on administrative suspension from all team activities pending further investigation. If the alleged criminal activity would constitute a misdemeanor offense, the head coach may lift the administrative suspension after obtaining the approval of the sport administrator. If the alleged criminal activity would constitute a felony, the administrative suspension may be lifted only upon authorization of the Director of Athletics."
Some observations on this policy:
- It calls for the immediate suspension from team activities whenever an athlete is charged with or arrested for a crime – not when he or she is indicted or convicted.
- It refers to “alleged criminal activity” when distinguishing between a misdemeanor and a felony, and again does not stipulate whether the athlete is actually found guilty of the offense.
- It provides a means for the athlete to be reinstated regardless of whether he or she is a) charged with a misdemeanor or felony, and b) actually convicted or not.
- It does not specify how many competitive events that an athlete must miss due to a violation of this code of conduct; that is left up to the coach and the athletic department.
While it's a bit disconcerting that a mere accusation of a crime can get an athlete suspended from a UW team, it is good that all the athlete needs to become reinstated is approval from either the coach or the athletic director. Now, Seferian-Jenkins must wait to see how his case progresses, which could take several weeks.
But even if he is found guilty of DUI or a lesser offense, he may still be able to return to the football team before the Huskies begin their 2013 season on August 31. (It should be noted that at Texas Christian University, starting quarterback Casey Pachall was suspended indefinitely from his team last October after being arrested and convicted of DUI. Though he missed the reminder of last season's games, he is currently back on TCU's roster for the Horned Frogs' 2013 spring practices.)