Houston reinstated for Tech-Miami game Sat.

Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:40pm
By: John Munford

Judge rules football standout should play

Former Starr’s Mill football standout Reuben Houston, who has been indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges, still deserves to be on the Georgia Tech football team, a Fulton County judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge M. Gino Brogdon Sr. ordered the school to reinstate Houston immediately to the football team Tuesday, and he will be suited up for Saturday’s game against the University of Miami, said his attorney, Georgia Tech alumnus Manny Arora.

The school had already re-admitted Houston as a student, but Arora felt it important to fight for Houston’s rights to participate on the football squad too, because Houston should be considered “innocent until proven guilty,” Arora said.

The charge stems from a incident in June in which Houston agreed to introduce one friend to another, in a scheme that federal authorities claim was designed to set up a transaction involving marijuana. Arora pointed out that Houston had his 1-year-old daughter in the car at the time, planning to go with her to a birthday party in Riverdale.

At one point during that car ride, Houston began to feel “uncomfortable” and asked to be dropped off elsewhere with his daughter, and he then called his girlfriend, the baby’s mother, to pick them up, Arora said.

Houston’s defense is that he withdrew from the situation and therefore is innocent of the drug conspiracy charge. Arora added that it was “stupid” of Houston to get involved at all.

Judge Brogdon’s order specifically directed Tech officials to immediately admit Houston back to all extracurricular activities “including varsity football,” but Arora notes that the coaching staff is not being forced to play Houston, a cornerback, in any way. Houston is also slated to graduate in December, he added.

“I just wanted a level playing field, that’s all,” Arora said.
Brogdon's Nov. 9 order pointed out that the Tech student accused of planting explosive devices at the school was allowed full privileges to attend classes after the incident; the school just didn’t allow him to live in student housing anymore.

“In first blush comparison of the two students’ suspected infractions, no reasonable person would argue that terrorist acts and actual bombs pose less of a threat to college students than marijuana sales,” Brogdon wrote. “... fairness must prevail in Tech’s treatment in both situations.”

Brogdon had to issue another order to Tech after Monday’s court hearing, noting that the school’s decision to exclude him from the football team “was arbitrary and strikingly dissimilar to the schools’ treatment of other similarly situated athletes who have been accused of breaking the law.”

Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine argues that the school should be able to keep Houston off the team because he violated the student-athlete code of conduct.

“Playing college football, especially at a school like Georgia Tech, is a privilege, not a right,” Braine said in a statement. “We must be able to set standards of conduct for our student-athletes, and we must be able to enforce and maintain discipline.”

Braine credited Houston for handling the situation “as best as he could.”

“He has taken responsibility for his actions and tried to do the right things,” Braine said.

A big part of Arora’s argument was that the school treated two other athletes who had been charged with felonies differently, but he admitted that the charges in those cases were later dropped ... which could happen in this case too, he pointed out.

Houston has missed 10 games this season but has been working out on his own to stay in shape, Arora said, adding that Houston has handled the incident very well emotionally.

Arora noted that about a dozen of Houston’s teammates attended Monday’s contempt hearing, which was sought because Tech had refused to reinstate him to the football team despite a previous order from the judge to do so.

Houston is one of 19 defendants in the federal drug case, which will be held in California because one of the people in the car with Houston during the offense is tied to a relative who deals marijuana in Fresno, Arora said. He added that Houston wasn’t arrested until four months after the incident, and that Houston didn’t have any contact at all with either of the men involved after the June incident took place.

Arora said as an alumnus of Tech, he’d like to see the school address how it handles such problems internally so all are treated fairly.

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Submitted by fayetteobservers on Sat, 11/19/2005 - 8:45am.

The reinstatement of Reuben Houston has me terribly troubled. Forget about the lawyers nonsense. Forget about the comparison to the Unabomber wannabe on Tech campus. He admits to knowingly being with these people, knowing that they were from California and what they did for a living (i.e., drug peddlars). He may or may not have known about the gargantuam marijuana stash. Is Houston innocent until proven guilty? Yes. That's why he was granted bail to retain his freedom.

To be allowed back on the football field as a representative of a taxpayer funded educational instituition, though, is outrageous. Let him sit out a year. He can still attend classes. If proven innocent, he's reinstated back on the football field, as a national representative of the institution. But this is all about money: money for Houston and money for Tech.

My teenager rescued me from my own abyss of ignorance the other night, a gesture I appreciate. I asked the question "How can a state that is 50th in public education year after year, despite a revolving door for education superintendents, spend $1,500,000 on a college football coach?" My son's response: "Get with it Dad. The revenues are huge off of those college football games." Oh well Dad just ain't with it.

P.S. If Tuberville wins today, though, he is worth the $2 mil...

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