Starting RB Ray Graham, wide receiver Devin Street and DB Lafayette Pitts were charged with assault, after three students, one male and two females, reported an incident involving the three players. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as the Fighting Irish were waiting for the Panthers in South Bend.
The players were not arrested, but received summonses to appear in Pittsburgh Municipal Court for a hearing on the charges on January 9, and all three played in the game against No. 3 Notre Dame.
PITT came within three points of the Fighting Irish, losing by a field goal in overtime.
Graham rushed for 172 yards and a TD on 24 carries, and is listed as the “Top Performer” for PITT on the ESPN Box Score for the game. Street had 3 catches for 35 yards, and Pitts recorded 6 tackles.
While the players were not arrested, it definitely raises some questions as to whether or not the university turned a blind eye to what these players did.
I think the game would have had a much different outcome had, at least, Ray Graham been suspended.
The university’s spokesperson issued the following statement regarding the eligibility of the three players charged:
“We take matters of player discipline very seriously and will continue to cooperate with any investigation. However, we will not, and hope others will not, rush to judgment on these misdemeanor allegations. All three players will remain active members of our program while we gain more clarity on this situation.”
Take that however you please, but it sounds like a stall to me.
PITT coaches and officials knew what game was coming up, and didn’t want to lose their star RB. Since nothing was confirmed yet, they decided to allow the players to play.
A court issued summons to appear for a trial seems like proof that something happened. Instead of playing it safe, in case something did happen, PITT chose to keep its stars for the big game, in hopes that they didn’t actually commit the crime.
Now, if it comes out that the players are arrested for assault, there’s not much disciplinary action the school itself can take. If there are any games left by the time they work all of this out, it won’t be as important as the game the players would have missed against Notre Dame.