Before we get to the discussion, the video. Be warned, it’s quite disturbing:
The man driving the white car is Murray State guard Zay Jackson. You can read the entire back story here, but the Cliff Notes version is simple: Jackson pushed a shopping cart into a parked car, and when he was confronted by a couple of bystanders, his reaction was to hit them with his car.
Jackson, a first-time offender, was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to wanton endangerment. He was initially charged with assault. In the eyes on the legal system, he’ll have paid the price for his crime as long as he avoids getting in trouble for the next four years, attends anger management and driving classes, and pays restitution to the victims in the form of an apology letter and a fine to be determined.
The bigger question, at least in our eyes, is what Murray State will do with Jackson. After averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 assists as a freshman, Jackson was expected to play a much-expanded role alongside Isaiah Canaan for the Racers this season. And, as of now, there is still a chance that he will suit up before the seasons is over. He’s scheduled to be released from jail on November 11th, and as of the time of this posting, the only comment that the school has made on the subject is as follows:
“I’ve been asked the question plenty of times what Zay’s status is with our program, and I just want to be very clear that Zay’s status hasn’t changed,” Allen Ward, director of athletics for MSU, said in the statement. “He has been suspended and he continues to be suspended, but I want people to understand that Zay’s still a very big part of this program, that he made a mistake, he’s taken responsibility for that mistake, he’s been accountable for it, and we’re going to do everything we can to help him through this and let him know that he has the support of the Murray State program, the campus, the community, the students that have all shown him a lot of support. He’s got some tough days ahead of him. It hasn’t been easy on him, these last couple of months, not being a part of the team activities, but we will continue to work through those times and we’ll be there for Zay, and he’s going to be a very big part of this program, and he will be part of the team this year.”
You’ve now seen the video, which means that we can assume that the Murray State decision makers now have, if they hadn’t previously.
Jackson ran over two people in a parking lot, driving through the lot with one of them clinging to the hood, all because they called him on ramming a shopping cart into a car.
Maybe there are mitigating circumstances — it is Jackson’s first offense; maybe he’s been a model citizen that simply made a mistake; there were accusations and rumors that the victim use a racial slur prior to getting run over — but Murray State would be hard-pressed to present a valid reason for Jackson to don a Racer uniform this season.
I’m all for giving 20 year olds second chances, but they shouldn’t be given that chance until they’ve paid the price for what they’ve done.
(h/t Jeff Eisenberg)
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.