YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There’s always excitement around YSU’s campus the day before a game. But how do students feel about football player Ma’lik Richmond and the controversy surrounding him?
“Some people bring it up and some of my friends ask me what I think,” said Gian-Carlo DiPaolo, of Howland. “I mean, people talk about it, just not a whole lot.”
Richmond was found guilty as a juvenile of rape while he was playing for Steubenville High School’s football team — a case that garnered widespread publicity.
Because of that, many protested when they found out he was on YSU’s team. A student at the university started an online petition that has generated more discussion on the situation. It asked that Richmond be removed from the team and 11,000 people have written comments.
“I guess it’s a big one. He’s a football player. Sexual assaults kind of give the team a bad rap, gives the university a bad rap, so I see where people are coming from,” said Jerod Carner, of Salem.
The backlash led to the university officials’ decision to ban him from playing in games this season.
In response, Richmond sued the school, asking to be reinstated on the team.
Richmond feels he should be allowed to represent the university and play in games — that he had that right when he was accepted into the university and welcomed onto the football team.
“What happened, it’s kinda big. It’s kinda wrong what he did,” DiPaolo said. “Everyone deserves a second chance somewhere. Why not let him redeem himself?”
There are sure to be demonstrations now that Richmond has won the right to play in a game but student reaction is tough to gauge.
“I don’t really care, to be quite honest. It was something that happened when he was younger. He did his time for it,” said Cindy Finney, of Cortland.
This situation is taking a lot of time in court right now and there is no end in sight. While the courts work to straighten it out, there will also be two sides on campus.
“Some people are like, ‘This is inappropriate, this shouldn’t be a thing,’ and then there are some just like, ‘Let him play.’ Like, ‘He made a mistake but he did his time and everything,'” said Randalyn Groves, of Springfield.
While there are likely some with very strong opinions about this on campus, a large number of students WKBN talked to on Friday had no idea who Richmond is or anything about the controversy.