Though he has not been convicted of the sexual assault charges against him, Missouri running back Derrick Washington has been permanently suspended from the football program, the Kansas City Star reported Wednesday afternoon.
In an email to the paper, the MU athletic department said that the decision will not "affect his existing athletic scholarship as long as he remains enrolled at Mizzou."
The announcement that Washington will be barred from ever returning to the field at Missouri likely comes as a shock — and a grave disappointment — to many. With 2,085 career rushing yards, Washington is 10th on MU's all-time list and has lead the team in rushing yards each of the past two seasons.
Felony sexual assault charges against the former All-Big 12 back notwithstanding, there was hope that Washington would be reinstated at some point during the 2010 season.
Nominated a team captain during the offseason, Washington was expected to be a featured performer on a Missouri offense that will now proceed with only one senior — center Tim Barnes. Also a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award — given annually to college football's best running back — Washington was enjoying perhaps his best preseason camp, having reportedly dropped some 15 pounds off his 2009 playing weight and displaying renewed quickness.
Washington, 21, was suspended indefinitely by head coach Gary Pinkel last week while prosecutors investigated allegations made by Washington's former tutor that he sexually assaulted her in June. The alleged victim was said to have filed an order of protection against Washington shortly after the incident, but that report was debunked by Washington's lawyers, who recently issued a press release saying that no such order had been served to their client.
Washington's attorney, Bogdan Susan, said that both his client and MU athletic officials only learned of the order when it was reported in the media last week, explaining why Washington was suspended some two months after the alleged incident.
The Boone County Prosecutors office filed deviate sexual assault charges against Washington on Monday. According to Missouri law, deviate sexual assault is a Class C felony.
Per university policy, players facing felony charges are not allowed to reinstated until the matter is resolved. Earlier this week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that lawyers for Washington may seek a plea bargain, which would lessen the charge to a misdemeanor.
Washington is expected to plead not guilty at an arraignment on Sept. 23, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. He turned himself into the Boone County Sheriff's Department on Monday and was released on $4,500 bond.