Posted: Mar 2, 2013 3:55 PM by Derek Buerkle - MTN News
MISSOULA - Suspended University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson was found not guilty of rape by a jury on Friday, but that doesn't mean he can get right back to work for the Griz.
Even though Johnson is now acquitted of all charges, that does not mean he will automatically get to suit up for Montana once again as he's still indefinitely suspended by the university.
Johnson must appeal to UM and explain why he should be allowed back in order to get reinstated. The Student Athlete Handbook states that a dismissal or reduction of a criminal charge may or may not justify revision of a suspension.
However, there is a very recent precedent of the Grizzlies allowing an acquitted player back on the team. Jimmy Wilson returned to the Griz in 2010 after he was found not guilty of murder.
It also became clear in the courtroom on Friday that many of Johnson's teammates have remained very close with him throughout the past year.
Johnson could also decide to transfer to another school, but unless he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA, he would have to sit out another season before stepping back on the field.
It was argued during the trial that UM Athletic Director Jim O'Day and head football coach Robin Pflugrad lost their jobs in the wake of the allegation against Johnson.
The U.S. Justice Department continues to investigate how a string of local sexual assault allegations were handled in the community, and an investigation by the NCAA into Griz football is still underway.