Eastern Michigan dismisses Still for felony
by Kevin Bull, Mark Snyder and David Jesse, USA TODAY Sports
Citing its student-athlete policy on discipline, Eastern Michigan dismissed Detroit native James Still from its basketball team Friday — three days after he pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge in Rhode Island.
According to that policy, however, Still should not have been allowed on the team in the first place, let alone practice and play in its first two games this season.
After starring at Detroit Community High, Still played one season at Providence until he was suspended in April 2010 — along with teammate Johnnie Lacy — for an attack on a student that led to felony charges. At the time, a Providence television station reported the victim suffered a broken nose, broken eye socket and other serious injuries.
Still didn’t play the next season. He ended up at Henry Ford Community College, where he had a stellar season in 2011-12.
With a felony charge still pending, Still, 21, joined Eastern Michigan this fall. EMU said in a statement Friday morning that the athletic department was aware of his legal situation but he was admitted “based upon numerous positive recommendations” after earning an associate degree at Henry Ford.
In a statement Friday evening, EMU said a student facing criminal charges “is not automatically precluded from admission” but must be approved by a review board. EMU spokesman Walter Kraft said the school could not discuss Still’s admission citing privacy rules but added EMU “takes the safety of its campus seriously and has an admissions process that balances the safety and security of campus with the goal of providing an opportunity to individuals who have made mistakes in the past.”
Neither EMU’s statement nor Kraft’s comments address why Still was allowed on the team, a direct conflict with its student-athlete discipline policy. The policy states any athlete charged with a felony “shall be suspended automatically from practice and playing privileges until the charges are dropped, dismissed or otherwise resolved.”
The Detroit Free Press reported the guilty plea online Tuesday night. EMU coach Rob Murphy, athletic director Derrick Gragg and president Susan Martin have not responded to several attempts by the Free Press for comment.