After Whitman County Superior Court judge grants a stay of Robert Barber's suspension, WSU has now lifted Logan Tago's suspension too
Update: Per his attorney, WSU LB Logan Tago pleaded not guilty in court Friday morning. Tago’s pre trial court day is scheduled for Jan. 13, and the trial date is set for Jan. 23, 2017.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Washington State football team got its nose tackle, Robert Barber, back on the roster when Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier granted a stay of Barber’s suspension that allowed him to return to school and football for now.
But it appears that the impact of Frazier’s ruling has extended beyond just Barber’s case.
On Thursday, suspended WSU linebacker Logan Tago will get to return to the classroom as well. Tago, a redshirt freshman from American Samoa, went before WSU’s student conduct board in September and was found responsible for abuse of others, reckless endangerment and sanctioned with a two-year suspension through May 2017. Tago appealed the sanction, but found out last week that the appeals board had upheld it.
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However, according to a source close to the situation, Tago was informed Wednesday that his suspension from WSU has been lifted, effective Thursday, and that due to Frazier’s ruling, the conduct board will be reviewing his case.
Barber’s stay was granted on Wednesday in part because Frazier found that WSU had made procedural errors during its conduct board process by destroying evidence of questions posed by Barber and his adviser.
“In light of the court ruling on Mr. Barber’s motion to stay his suspension on Wednesday, WSU is reviewing certain recent student conduct cases in an effort to determine whether any involve the procedural error noted by the Whitman County Superior Court,” WSU spokesperson Rob Strenge wrote in an email to The Seattle Times Thursday afternoon, speaking in general terms because he cannot comment on individual conduct board cases.
“If so, the conduct board’s decision in the case may be vacated until such time as the case may be re-heard by another student conduct board made up of members who did not participate in the original ruling,” Strenge wrote.
With his suspension lifted, Tago will be able to return to the classroom and practice field, though he is still barred from competing because he faces felony charges in relation to a fight on June 4.
Tago has been charged with second degree felony robbery and fourth degree misdemeanor assault for allegeldy assaulting another WSU student and stealing his six pack of beer in an incident on June 4. Tago’s arraignment is scheduled for this Friday, and his attorney, Steve Martonick, said Wednesday that Tago intends to plead not guilty.
“The courtroom process and Judge Frazier clearly illustrated some procedural problems with how the student conduct board is run and it’s strongly in the public interest to have students return to the classroom and let the criminal justice system run its course, that’s the best use of taxpayer funds,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R- Spokane), who, during the Barber case, spoke out strongly about the need for change in the student conduct process at WSU.
Tago’s sanction came amidst allegations from Asian-Pacific Islander advocacy groups and prominent WSU alums who have claimed racial bias was a factor in the conduct board case involving Barber and posited that the WSU student conduct process is unfair because it does not afford students adequate due process rights.
Since then, WSU has commissioned an independent attorney to evaluate and review its student conduct processes.
Jill Osur-Myers, the mother of WSU offensive lineman Noah Osur-Myers, was one of two Cougar football mothers who spoke in Barber’s defense at a public meeting in front of the WSU Board of Regents earlier this month.
In an interview Thursday morning, Osur-Myers applauded the conduct board’s move to lift Tago’s suspension and review his case, and said Tago, like Barber, has been unfairly treated by a flawed student conduct process at WSU and alleged that there was racial and cultural bias in the way the WSU’s conduct board handled Tago’s case.
“I think that’s the right thing for the university to do. Especially given that they need to take a serious look at some cultural biases within the student conduct board,” Osur-Myers said. “Until that is reviewed, we believe that students outside of Title IX cases – so non sexual-assault cases – should have their suspensions lifted.”
Osur-Myers and Tracy Cracraft, another WSU football mother who advocated for Barber, asked the WSU Board of Regents earlier this month to acknowledge that the student conduct board process is broken and needs reform, and called for WSU to disband the current conduct board until the process has been reviewed and evaluated, and to lift suspensions of all WSU students who were sanctioned in this school year, with the exception of sexual assault cases or other extreme crimes.