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Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 @ 8:51 PM
Ma'lik Richmond, convicted in the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl when he was a high school football player in Steubenville, will not be permitted to play for the Youngstown State University football team this fall but will be a part of the program.
>>PHOTOS: Protesters in Steubenville
According to a statement YSU officials released Wednesday evening, Richmond "will continue to be a part of the football program as a practice player, forfeiting a year of eligibility.
"He will be given the opportunity to benefit from group participation, the lessons of hard work and discipline, as well as the camaraderie and guidance of the staff and teammates. He will also continue to work with the university’s director of student outreach and support who assists young men and women in becoming successful students and YSU graduates."
University officials released the statement two days after a student started a petition asking YSU football coach Bo Pelini and university President Jim Tressel to remove Richmond from the team.
Richmond, a defensive tackle, was a high school player in Steubenville, Ohio, when he was charged and convicted in the 2012 rape.
He was released after serving time in a juvenile detention center and returned to his high school football team.
Pelini told cbssports.com that Richmond enrolled at Youngstown State in August 2016 and joined the football program as a walk-on in January.
"I gave him some stipulations and some things he had to be able to do, and if he lived up to them, he'd be able to come out and see if he could be a member of our football team. He did those things and continues to do those things right now, and he's done a nice job for us," Pelini told WFMJ in Youngstown.
According to cbssports.com, the petition to have Richmond removed had 6,800 supporters as of Monday morning.
Katelyn Davis, the listed author on Petition.org, detailed her cause.
"For many years, athletes have constantly been given additional chances because they are athletes," Davis wrote. "What does this say about rape culture? That athletes can do no wrong; that they can get away with anything because of how they perform on the field or in the gym?
"Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by furthering his education on YSU's campus. Does he deserve the privilege of playing on a football team and representing a university? Absolutely not. Education is a right, whereas playing on a sports team is not."
YSU officials, in the prepared statement, said,
"The University is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and of petitions that are circulating on social media in protest and support of one of our students, Ma’lik Richmond. We value the input of the entire YSU community and are committed to providing a safe learning environment and growth opportunities for all students, faculty and staff.
“Ma’lik Richmond transferred to Youngstown State University in good standing from his prior institution for Fall 2016. After matriculating at YSU, he expressed a desire to try out for the football program. Ma’lik was advised by the coaching staff that if he integrated himself within the campus community academically and socially and completed the fall semester in good standing, further discussions could occur.
“In January, Ma’lik again inquired about trying out for the team. At this time, he was permitted to participate on a tryout basis with the team, for winter workouts. At the conclusion of winter workouts, he was permitted to practice with the team as a walk-on from February to April. Ma’lik Richmond earned a spot on the 105-man roster on August 2 as a walk-on and is not receiving an athletic scholarship. He continues to be in good standing on the YSU campus.