I asked Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers yesterday to clarify what role the Office of Judicial Affairs would play in whether suspended defensive linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma return to the team. That is, assuming the starters are charged with a misdemeanor drug offense in connection to the small amount of marijuana that was found three weeks ago at their on-campus apartment.
Right now, it appears the suspensions are completely coach Joe Paterno's call. But if the players are charged their futures could hinge on another verdict from OJA. Here was Powers' verbose clarification in an e-mail:
"The only time the Office of Judicial Affairs has a direct impact on taking away a student's eligibility for involvement in an co-curricular activity (whether it's sports, the band, or paintball club) is when the student is suspended or expelled. When a student is suspended through OJA, they are suspended from all activities and cannot use facilities.
In other instances when a student-athlete comes before Judicial Affairs and is found guilty of charges and is sanctioned -- Judicial Affairs provides notice of the nature of the misconduct and the sanction to the administrator of the activity or organization (in the case of football, OJA would notify Tim Curley who would convey the information to the coach). It is then up to the administrator who oversees the activity to determine any further sanction for participation.
The rationale here is based on the assumption that involvement in student activities is for the most part a healthy influence on student behavior. Removing such involvement as a way of correcting misbehavior may or may not be productive. When a co-curricular sanction is thought to be appropriate, such a disciplinary determination is best left to those most closely associated with the activity."
And this from an OJA document:
"Sanctions imposed by Judicial Affairs do not limit administrators who have ultimate responsibility for a student activity -- such as deans, director of athletics, or vice president of student affairs -- from imposing an additional sanction on a student who has violated rules or the student code of conduct, particularly when the student is in the position of representing the University."
Not sure it that clears anything up. Make of it what you will.