Washington State defensive tackle Robert Barber is once again a member of the football team.
A judge granted a stay of Barber’s school suspension, allowing him to return to the field. Barber had been suspended from the school after he was initially expelled following the student conduct disciplinary process at the school.
But a Whitman County Superior Court judge issued a stay in Barber’s suspension Wednesday morning because of the board’s conduct in the process. From the Spokesman-Review:
Ultimately, [judge David] Frazier ruled in Barber’s favor because WSU had made record keeping errors, destroying evidence of questions submitted by Barber to be asked of witnesses and allegedly paraphrasing those questions.
Barber was expelled from the school after he had admitted to punching another student at a house party over the summer. The expulsion was changed to a suspension after appeal, but the suspension lasted through the school year and prevented Barber, a senior, from ever playing football again. He was arrested along with former defensive back T.J. Fehoko on assault charges but the two were never officially indicted.
Some of Barber’s teammates attended an early-November meeting with regents to vouch for him. A state senator angrily left the meeting unhappy with the school’s refusal to reinstate Barber. The meeting came not long after Washington State announced it would conduct an independent review of its student conduct processes.
The school had argued for Barber’s punishment on the grounds that he was a threat to public safety — an initial point in its ruling against him. Barber’s attorney also alleged the school’s ruling against him was evidence of racial bias. Barber is Samoan.
[Danielle] Hess disputed that board members showed racial bias by saying Barber should be put in a “holding cell,” reading the transcript of a conversation in which board members had a confused conversation about holding Barber in a room while various parties came in and out so that Barber, the complainant and witnesses would not have to interact.
[Steve] Graham disputed the innocent nature of the conversation, and asked the court to listen to a recording rather than just read the transcript. He contended that the student conduct board had paraphrased the questions provided by Barber and did not preserve the original questions.
Barber’s return is a boost to Washington State’s defense over the final stretch of the season. He was the team’s starting nose tackle in 2015. The No. 22 Cougars, 8-2, play No. 10 Colorado and No. 6 Washington to conclude the regular season. Wins in both games would earn Washington State the Pac-12 North title.
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