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Shedding Light on SLU Basketball's Suspension of Willie Reed and Kwamain Mitchell

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photo by Keegan Hamilton
Rick Majerus and Kyle Cassity are not looking forward to a season without Kwamain Mitchell
Late yesterday afternoon, the Saint Louis University athletic department released a brief and cryptic statement saying that two star basketball players -- point guard Kwamain Mitchell and forward Willie Reed -- were no longer enrolled in school.

The notice -- which is conspicuously absent from the "news" section of the school's website -- produced more questions than it did answers: Were Reed and Mitchell the same two basketball players who were involved in an alleged sexual assault last May on SLU's campus? If so, and no charges were ever filed in that incident, why take disciplinary action? Since they are no longer taking classes, does that mean their Billiken basketball careers are over? And what does outspoken head coach Rick Majerus have to say about all this?

Now, the morning after the news broke, we finally have some facts.

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Willie Reed is projected as a first round pick in the NBA draft
Several outlets -- including the Post-Dispatch and KSDK -- say "unnamed sources" have confirmed that Reed and Mitchell are indeed the two players who were accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female student in a campus dorm room around 3 a.m. on May 1, 2010. At the time, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said there was "insufficient evidence for us to bring charges against the suspects at this time."

Today, the Post quotes Ed Postawko, the chief warrants officer for the circuit attorney's office, as saying that his office's sex crimes unit is still reviewing evidence and that the case has been "taken under advisement."

Though they have (at least thus far) escaped criminal charges, Reed and Mitchell were still disciplined by SLU's student conduct committee. It is school policy that "even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the university can pursue disciplinary action." In the case of Reed and Mitchell, the conduct committee reportedly recommended a one-year suspension, which was reduced on appeal by the school's administration. Again citing an unnamed source, the Post says that Reed and Mitchell are suspended until January, at which point they can re-enroll "if they meet certain conditions."

Both Reed and Mitchell's names are now missing from the 2010-11 roster on the Billiken basketball website.

Reed led the team in rebounding and blocks and scored 12.4 points per game last season. A six-foot-nine power forward, he is projected to be a first round pick in the 2011 NBA draft by NBADraft.net. Mitchell, meanwhile, poured in a team-high 15.9 points per game, was second in assists and first in minutes played.

If the duo are in fact required to sit out until January, they would miss fourteen games, including the team's trip to North Carolina to face mighty Duke on December 11, but they could play in every Atlantic-10 Conference game.

Although Fox 2 reports that "it's understood that [Reed and Mitchell] will never play basketball for the Billikens again," there are indications that Mitchell is willing to return.

Reed, however, is mulling a transfer. His father, Willie Reed Sr., spoke to several local news outlets yesterday and said in no uncertain terms that if the suspensions were not lifted immediately, and the players reinstated, "We will pull [Willie] out and follow through with a lawsuit against the university."

Reed actually has a history of transferring out of schools: he sat out his senior year at Bishop Miege High School after leaving the controversial program at Milestone Christian Academy during his junior year.

Neither Reed nor Mitchell responded to interview requests by Riverfront Times yesterday.

Majerus -- who has rebuilt SLU's basketball program from the ground up, with Reed and Mitchell as the cornerstones -- has been silenced thus far by his employer. "I've been instructed by the university not to speak on the matter, and so I won't," he told the Post-Dispatch.

But if this roundup answers most of the lingering questions, it's worth noting that one whopper still remains: What really happened in that dorm room on the morning of May 1?

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