The five-way race for the Atlantic 10 championship many thought would materialize may already be down to four.
Saint Louis, which appeared to be returning the core of last year's surprising 23-win team, announced Wednesday that its top scoring guard and best big man are not enrolled in school anymore. School officials offered no details regarding the status of Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed, but sources told the Saint Louis Post Dispatch that this is a result of allegations of a sexual assault first reported in early May.
Reed's father told the Post Dispatch that his son and Mitchell were suspended last month by the university's student court for a full year because an unspecified violation of the school's student code of conduct. An appeal apparently reduced the suspension to two months, a compromised that seems to have left nobody satisfied.
"I'm sure the young lady's parents aren't happy because they wanted them kicked out for a year," Willie Reed Sr. told the Post Dispatch. "But I'm not happy either, because I know my son didn't do what he was accused of. This thing was all screwed up."
It's unclear whether Reed and Mitchell will re-enroll at Saint Louis and rejoin the team in two months, but they may be unable to play for the Billikens this season either way. Hard to imagine either being academically eligible in the spring after missing two months of the fall semester.
If neither Reed nor Mitchell are available, that kills any chance Saint Louis had of challenging Temple, Xavier, Richmond and Dayton at the top of this season's loaded Atlantic 10 conference.
The Billikens were a pleasant surprise when they advanced all the way to the finals of the College Basketball Invitational tournament with a team of freshmen and sophomores last season. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll get to see them take that next step.