Teammates attend regent meeting in support of suspended Washington St. DT

WSU DT Robert Barber tackles Oregon RB Royce Freeman in 2015. (Getty)
WSU DT Robert Barber tackles Oregon RB Royce Freeman in 2015. (Getty)

Washington State defensive tackle Robert Barber’s teammates attended an open forum with Washington State regents Friday to support Barber as he fights a year-long suspension from the university.

Barber was suspended through July 2017 after a student-conduct review of his role in a summer fight at a party in Pullman. Barber and ex-Washington State safety T.J. Fehoko were arrested on felony assault charges, though neither player has been officially indicted.

An attorney for Barber has challenged the school’s punishment on the grounds the conduct process was flawed. He filed a motion Thursday in Washington Supreme Court to put a hold on the suspension until a review of Washington State’s processes is done.

Friday, people came to the open forum with regents to support Barber. The support came from parents of teammates and a state senator, who charged out of the meeting according to the Spokesman-Review.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner reportedly yelled “If you don’t fix this, I goddamn will” as he left the meeting.

Wide receiver Gabe Marks spoke in support of Barber at the hearing, as did the mothers of wide receiver River Cracraft and offensive lineman Noah Osur-Myers.

Cracraft and Osur each said they believe their children, who are white, would be treated differently than Barber during the student conduct process because of their race.

Baumgartner’s frustration, per the Spokesman-Review, came because the regents would not rule to immediately end the suspensions of Barber and all others of the “non-extreme” variety. The sentiments come not long after the school said it has launched an independent review into its student conduct practices.

Barber’s lawyer, Steve Graham, noted in the petition what he felt were improper actions by the Student Conduct Board while reviewing Barber’s case. Barber was punished in September, days before he was arrested. From an earlier SR article:

In the petition, Graham claims that the Conduct Board openly joked in the hearing about Barber needing a “holding cell”; the professor who directed the hearing, Lisa McIntyre, refused to ask all of the questions Barber submitted; and she then improperly did not preserve the records of the proceeding.

“We don’t think the hearing chairperson (McIntyre) really treated him fairly or came in with an open mind. You have to listen to the audio recording to understand the approach that Dr. McIntyre took,” Graham said. “We are going to do what we can to try to get the judge to look at this and see it from our side.”

Fehoko has been expelled from the school. Barber was initially expelled as well, but his expulsion was changed to a suspension in October. Per the Seattle Times, Barber has admitted to punching a man in the head twice during the July fight.

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The school has said the comment about a holding cell was taken out of context and has countered all of Barber’s claims of impropriety. In its response to Graham’s motion it noted Barber was cited for harassment of an office in March of 2015 and the combination of allegations meant he could pose a threat to campus safety.

From the Times:

According to Pullman Police Department reports of the March 2015 incident, Barber got angry after he saw a friend being arrested for disorderly conduct – this friend had thrown a piece of beef jerky at a moving car – and he hit the side of a nearby car with his hand and yelled expletives at a passerby who was an off-duty police officer.
According to the report, the off-duty police officer, Riley Myklebust, informed Barber that he was a cop and could have him arrested. Thereafter, Barber pointed at him and said he was going to “take care of (him) when the cops left and ‘beat (his) ass.

Barber played in all 12 of Washington State’s games in 2015 and was expected to be a starter along the interior in 2016. Regents at the meeting said they had devised a plan for Barber to complete his degree online during his suspension. Though given Barber is a senior, that doesn’t do anything to resuscitate his football career.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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