Skip to main content

What would you do if you were Bo Pelini?

[Note - Original article was published August 9th]

Monday August 21 Update>

In tragic news, this morning, the father of the convicted rapist now on Bo Pelini's team at Youngstown State performed what the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court called "a cowardly ambush" on the judge who presided over his son's rape trial [WaPo reporting below was not the judge from his son's case; but a judge who he had multiple cases with], shooting him shortly after he exited his car at the courthouse. "Everybody knows who parks there," Judge Joseph Corabi said. "That's why it's not an accident what happened. He was clearly an intended target." The AP reports the shooter was subsequently shot and killed. We're happy to report the AP adds Governor John Kasich has been told the judge is expected to survive.

Read more here from the AP.

The Washington Post is reporting the judge shot was not actually the judge on his son's case; but was a judge the shooter had "a criminal history and cases in [the judge's] courtroom, as well as before other judges".

August 9 - 7pm Update> 

Youngstown State, acknowledging "the gravity of the situation and of petitions that are circulating on social media" has decided that the player in question will not play this year.

The University has announced Ma'lik Richmond can continue to practice with the team this season but will not be allowed to participate in games for the Fall 2017 football season.

The full announcement from YSU is below:

Youngstown State University takes the matter of sexual assault very seriously and continues to educate everyone within the campus community about the impact and prevention of sexual assault.

The University is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and of petitions that are circulating on social media in protest and support of one of our students, Ma’lik Richmond. We value the input of the entire YSU community and are committed to providing a safe learning environment and growth opportunities for all students, faculty and staff.

Ma’lik Richmond transferred to Youngstown State University in good standing from his prior institution for Fall 2016. After matriculating at YSU, he expressed a desire to try out for the football program. Ma’lik was advised by the coaching staff that if he integrated himself within the campus community academically and socially and completed the fall semester in good standing, further discussions could occur.

In January, Ma’lik again inquired about trying out for the team. At this time, he was permitted to participate on a tryout basis with the team, for winter workouts. At the conclusion of winter workouts, he was permitted to practice with the team as a walk-on from February to April. Ma’lik Richmond earned a spot on the 105-man roster on August 2 as a walk-on and is not receiving an athletic scholarship. He continues to be in good standing on the YSU campus.

YSU does not restrict any student’s ability to take part in extracurricular activities as long as they are in good standing with the institution. YSU believes that extracurricular activities assist in a student’s ability to succeed.

For the Fall 2017 football season, Ma’lik will not be permitted to compete in any games, but will continue to be a part of the football program as a practice player, forfeiting a year of eligibility. He will be given the opportunity to benefit from group participation, the lessons of hard work and discipline, as well as the camaraderie and guidance of the staff and teammates. He will also continue to work with the University’s director of student outreach and support who assists young men and women in becoming successful students and YSU graduates.

As a state university, YSU is fully committed to complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibits gender discrimination in education programs and activities, including sexual assault. The University has increased its efforts in the past years to inform, educate and prevent sexual assault and to provide services to victims of sexual assault. YSU is committed to eradicating sexual assault and educating our students beyond the classroom in order to be productive members of society.

Original Article (August 9)>

In 2013, Ma'lik Richmond was one of two young men convicted by a Steubenville, Ohio, juvenile court of raping a 16-year-old Weirton, W. Va., girl. Richmond was 16 years old at the time.

Richmond expressed remorse after he was found guilty, and apologized to both his victim's family and his own. He served nine months in an Ohio juvenile detention facility before returning to Steubenville High School and Steubenville's football team.

Richmond has since graduated from Steubenville High School and now attends Youngstown State. He first attended California University of Pennsylvania (which has a football team, though it doesn't appear Richmond was a member) and Potomac State College in West Virginia (which does not) before Pelini recruited him to walk on at YSU. From The Vindicator:

Pelini said he did his own investigation of Richmond’s past and the decision to bring him on was his alone. He got a tip from someone in Steubenville that Richmond was on YSU’s campus as a student during the 2016 season. He called Richmond’s high school coach, Reno Saccoccia, to confirm it.

“[Saccoccia] told me he was [at YSU], but that Ma’lik wasn’t looking to play football at the time,” Pelini said.

Pelini said he took some time in 2016 to vet Richmond. Some of it involved reading up on the infamous case itself. It also involved speaking with some of his Steubenville contacts from his time recruiting the area. Not long after YSU lost to James Madison in the Football Championship Subdivison national championship game, he met Richmond face to face.

“The kid is humble and he wants to put [his past] behind him,” Pelini said.

That decision has inspired an intense, wide-ranging reaction.

A petition directed toward YSU head coach Bo Pelini and president Jim Tressel has garnered nearly 9,000 signatures has climbed over 10,000 signatures as of this morning (its target is 10,000) asking for Richmond to be removed from the team.

In 2012, a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped by two high school football players, one of which is now a football player for Youngstown State University. Ma'lik Richmond was convicted of the rape of an unconscious young girl, which was also caught on camera and placed on social media to brag about the rape.

In 2013, Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year in a juvenile detention center, and ended up serving only one year; he was released in January of 2014.

Now, in 2017, as YSU students prepare to return to school and spend fall nights watching their football team play, there is a huge problem. That problem is that Richmond will be on the field, playing a game. He will be representing the university and all that it stands for. President Tressel and Coach Pelini, are you more concerned with your football team's status than the disgusting rape of a young girl?

For many years, athletes have constantly been given additional chances because they are athletes. What does this say about rape culture? That athletes can do no wrong; that they can get away with anything because of how they perform on the field or in the gym?

Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by furthering his education on YSU's campus. Does he deserve the privilege of playing on a football team and representing a university? Absolutely not. Education is a right, whereas playing on a sports team is not.

As the voice of the students of Youngstown State University, I ask that Richmond be removed from the football team, and this privilege be revoked from someone who absolutely does not deserve it. Thank you. 

A protest has been planned outside Stambaugh Stadium during Youngstown State's home-opener, and the movement to remove Richmond from the team has garnered high-profile support.

On the one hand, Richmond has expressed remorse for his crime and paid his debt to society. On the other, in a world where coaches often brag about dropping kids off their recruiting boards for using profane language in a tweet... and yet a literal convicted rapist is on the roster at Youngstown State.

Here's what Pelini had to say to WFMJ-TV:

"I gave him some stipulations and some things he had to be able to do and if he lived up to them he'd be able to come out and see if he could be a member of our football team. He did those things and continues to do those things right now and he's done a nice job for us."

Pelini declined to elaborate on what those stipulations were.

A 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end, Richmond is expected to see regular playing time for the Penguins this fall. Would he play for your team? Why or why not?