News emerged early this morning that Arkansas will be without five scholarship players throughout the first month of the season. And our own Searching For Billy Edelin offers some commentary:
The best way to draw questions to your basketball program is to tip-off your season opener with only nine players in uniform. Well Arkansas will be in that precarious position for a few weeks, maybe longer, as John Pelphrey is cleaning up some dirty laundry from undisclosed incidents that date back to the end of last season. Five players have been suspended, including starters and for an indefinite amount of time. Reserve will be out for the first six games.
Ironically, the Razorbacks seventh game of the season is against Oklahoma, so let's all make a mental note for when Pelfrey wakes up on December 1st and announces Fortson and Welsh have been absolved and appropriately repented for all the childish acts they were caught doing over the summer.
Notably, three of the players (Britt, Glenn Bryant, Nick Mason) that were suspended faced charges of rape earlier this year. The charges were dismissed, but are pending review by a special prosecutor after the District Attorney was alleged to have a conflict of interest in the case. It's entirely possible that one or all of the student-athletes accused could still face charges--in the meantime, it seems that these suspensions allow Arkansas to hedge their bets, while they wait for the outcome to be decided. Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey had this to say:
"In the course of this process, we analyzed each student-athlete's situation independently and made determinations based on each set of circumstances. We will continue to address disciplinary matters in a straight-forward manner and take action when players do not meet the expectations of conduct required of our student-athletes. Our program remains committed to representing the University of Arkansas, individually and collectively, in an appropriate manner."