by Christopher Whitten
edited by Chelsea Boozer
The Daily Helmsman
Although University of Memphis football player Derek Howard was suspended after his arrest for assault in January, the defensive back never missed a scheduled team workout, practice or scrimmage. His appeal of the suspension, through a policy for athletes arrested for a crime, was granted.
“It is not about whether or not he was guilty, but rather is a process much more designed to decide what is in the best interest of The University and the student,” said University Counsel Sherri Lipman, one of three members on the committee that handled Howard’s appeal.
Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate at the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., said while the university had not broken any laws by having different appeal standards for student athletes under the athlete conduct policy, the university did fail to uphold the standards set forth in the student handbook.
“Declining to discipline someone is not illegal,” Goldstein said. “But for them to bend the rules of their own student handbook concerns me. If (looking out for an athlete’s best interest) is a concern for you, then don’t write a rule punishing them. Like I said, it’s not illegal, but it’s definitely shady.”
Associate Athletic Director Lynn Parkes, who worked with Lipman to write the policy, said it was put in place not to circumvent judicial affairs, which handles student appeals of punishments given for violating the student code, but to provide guidance when incidents arise that do not fall under the purview of that office.