The Penn State Nittany Lions ran into some bad news regarding their incoming freshman class when three-star linebacker Zayd Issah was arrested for trying to pass counterfeit bills at a restaurant. While the young man awaits trial, Bill O’Brien and the Penn State program have come down with a tough but fair decision in regards to the highly-touted commit as they pulled Issah’s scholarship, at least for now.
While Issah waits for a preliminary hearing on May 9, the team has taken the only real stance it could in this situation: wait and see. Temporarily suspending Issah’s scholarship allows O’Brien and the Penn State program to distance themselves while they wait to find out just how serious a charge Issah will face. Once they have more information, they can make a permanent decision one way or the other on the young man’s future with the Nittany Lions.
If Issah is convicted of a felony, then the decision becomes simple for Penn State. At that point, they would have to cut ties and would have already started the process of doing so, making it much less of a jarring change. If the charges are dismissed, however, or Issah pleads down to a misdemeanor, there’s a strong possibility the team will reinstate Issah’s scholarship with conditions and the recruit will undoubtedly be on a short leash if he makes it onto campus.
While some may argue that the move to suspend his scholarship is premature, Penn State is not in a position to roll the dice when it comes to character issues on its football team, fair or not. The Nittany Lions are a program that has to have higher standards off the field for its players than just about any other. While losing Issah would be a blow to the depth of Penn State’s linebacker depth next season, Bill O’Brien is making the right call in his handling of the situation.