Shalom Luani will be back on the field for WSU against Boise State. Luani was held out of the EWU game as a disciplinary measure.

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Washington State coach Mike Leach said Monday afternoon that senior free safety Shalom Luani will play when the Cougars travel to Boise, Idaho to take on Boise State on Sept. 10.

Luani, 22, has not practiced since August 24, when he was arrested and charged with a second degree assault after he allegedly punched a WSU student in an altercation at a Domino’s Pizza joint. According to the Pullman Police Department, the incident was sparked by Luani behaving in a belligerent manner because he was upset that his pizza order was taking too long.

The Pullman Police Department has twice turned down The Seattle Times’ public records requests for the official police report of the incident because the investigation is still ongoing.

Every time he was asked about the matter, Leach has stopped short of calling Luani’s non-participation in practice a suspension — even telling a reporter in Saturday’s post-game press conference that Luani’s status was “none of his business.”

But the safety notably did not play in last weekend’s home opener against Eastern Washington, and he did not appear to be on the sidelines.

Monday afternoon, on his weekly conference call with reporters, Leach declined to share what details he might have gleaned from talking to the police, or from any independent investigation his staff conducted into Luani’s case.

“I’m not going to share any of that, but suffice to say, of the facts that I know, it’s not near what’s been publicized, and I’m very disappointed that the court of public opinion has been tainted and contaminated the way it has,” Leach said. “Shalom’s relationship with our team, that will remain with us.”

Leach said two weeks ago that “the initial fact-finding sounds like he got jumped by three people, but we’ll wait till it unfolds.”

When asked to expound on what he said two weeks ago about Luani having been “jumped,” Leach declined to comment.

“My impressions, I’m not gonna share. And I think that anything that’s an ongoing investigation ought to be like that. But suffice to say I’m comfortable with any punishment we’ve issued (to Luani) and don’t plan to issue any more,” Leach said.

Luani has not made any public comments since his arrest, but in a public Facebook post from August 25 that he wrote to his family and friends, he apologized for disappointing them, but also alleged that there were facts that had not been disclosed.

“I’m still the same Shalom, and if you know me, you would know I would never fight over something like that,” Luani wrote on August 24. “There are two sides to every story and I just wanted to say I’m sorry and I love you all.”

Luani started every game for WSU at free safety last season. He led the Cougars with four interceptions and was third on the defense with 90 tackles. He is the most experienced returning safety the Cougars have and Leach conceded on Saturday his absence from the lineup had some effect on how the WSU defense struggled to corral EWU’s dynamic offense.

In Luani’s absence last weekend against the Eagles, the Cougars’ defensive secondary had what second year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch termed “our worst day since I’ve been here.”

Grinch said the defense was too tentative against EWU. The Cougars gave up five passing touchdowns and 496 passing yards. Junior Robert Taylor started the game in place of Luani, but was ejected in the third quarter for targeting. Sophomore Hunter Dale finished out the game at free safety for the Cougars.

Taylor’s one game suspension for targeting would have extended through the first half of this weekend’s game at Boise. Until Leach’s announcement about Luani being reinstated to the lineup, Dale was expected to start at free safety.

Luani’s return comes as a huge boost for a young defensive secondary that featured three first-time starters against EWU.

“He’s a good, established player, and he’s got some experience too,” Leach said.