Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Peterson: Here

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Cameron Lard on how his freshman season went and what he needs to work on.
Tommy Birch/The Register

AMES, Ia. — Why wasn’t Iowa State basketball player Cameron Lard suspended for a game or two after being cited — not arrested — on Feb. 4 for possession of drug paraphernalia and speeding, you wonder?

Because the school’s explicit Student-Athlete Discipline Policy doesn’t call for suspension in this instance, that’s why.

The 6-foot-9 freshman from Louisiana was charged with two simple misdemeanors  —possession of a glass pipe, aka drug paraphernalia, that just happened to have residue in it, and for going 50 in a 40 mph zone.

Neither are exactly severe crimes. Possession of drug paraphernalia falls under the Level II section of Iowa State’s policy — and that calls for counseling and possibly community service.

Under the law, it’s such a minor offense that Ames Police Department Cmdr. Geoff Huff wonders about the standards to which we hold our college athletes.

“It’s a pretty minor incident,” Huff said of Lard’s charge. “If it would have been anyone else but Cameron Lard, I wouldn’t have even gotten one call on that.

“We do this every day, writing possession tickets. Simple misdemeanor.  No one ever cares.

“It’s a little unfair to the student-athlete, in my opinion. If he was anyone else — no one would care. It’s the same level of charge as speeding.”

Athletes get scholarships. They’re on television. Thousands of fans pay money to see them perform — from the players that average one point per game, to Lard’s averages of 12 points and 8 rebounds.

They’re in the public eye. They’re held to higher standards, rightly or wrongly.

They’re cautioned about the scrutiny they’re under each school year. They know every allegedly questionable move is social media fodder.

Eventually, it’ll come out. Eventually, even about two months after the fact, news will hit the streets.

Why didn’t this become news sooner? Because, contrary to popular belief, not everyone looks daily at misdemeanor police blotter entries.

If Lard’s situation was a second-offense Level II violation, he would have been suspended for 10 percent of a season. A third offense means indefinite suspension, in case you wondered.

By law, Lard’s wrongdoing is piddly. It didn’t even reach the level for a field sobriety test.

“The officer probably didn’t feel that (Lard) was impaired,” Huff said. “If the officer felt there was any impairment, they would have done some testing. That didn’t even come up.”

Lard started eight of the remaining nine games after receiving the citations. The game he didn’t start was Senior Night — when coach Steve Prohm started an all-senior lineup.

So if I’m interpreting ISU’s policy correctly, it was Lard’s first offense for something other than speeding. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a simple misdemeanor, under Section 124.414 of the Iowa Code.

No suspension. It’s in the policy, as it pertains to what happened the night after Iowa State lost 81-67 at Baylor.

Ames police stopped Lard around 7:30 p.m. He was ticketed. He wasn’t arrested. He wasn’t locked up. He was the only person in the car. The officer smelled marijuana. Lard wasn’t charged with smoking pot. He was charged only with having a drug paraphernalia in the back seat, which was discovered after Lard gave the officer consent to search the car he was driving.

Those are facts, per online reports and from my conversation with Huff.

“It was basically a citation,” Huff said. “He got a couple citations, and he was on his way.”

First offense. Simple misdemeanor. Again, the Iowa State policy says no suspension, although there’s also this sentence in the Level II section:

“The Athletics Department has the right to declare any infraction as Level I.”

Apparently that didn’t happen, because Lard started three days later at Texas Tech — or Iowa State only learned of the situation Wednesday.

That’s something that’s unknown at this point, because Prohm isn’t commenting, and Lard, according to Iowa State media relations, isn’t doing interviews right now.

Maybe we’ll know more during the jury trial that’s scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 8.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

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