|Jackson is paying a huge basketball price for his crime by being suspended for the 2012-13 season. (US Presswire)|
Jackson was arrested for hitting two people with his car last month in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Despite such an ugly scene, it looked as though Murray State was going to bring Jackson back sometime this season, even though he was suspended indefinitely -- that was until the video of the incident leaked out.
Jackson, who averaged 4.9 points last season and was expected to start for Steve Prohm and the Racers this season, pleaded guilty and received a 30-day sentence. He was expected to return to court on Nov. 30, when the judge could alter the plea deal.
On Wednesday, since there was still no final resolution, the school released a statement that Jackson would miss this season, remain in school and seek help.
“Zay's suspension will remain in effect during the 2012-13 season," athletic director Allen Ward said. "He will not be allowed to participate in any contests during the upcoming season. It is my expectation that Zay will concentrate on getting the help he needs, fulfill the requirements that will be dictated by the court, go above and beyond the necessary steps required to become an exemplary citizen and prove to me and others that he is deserving of this opportunity to remain part of our program and university. Only because of the importance of having an established support structure during this time, I will allow Zay to return to team activities such as practice, study hall and conditioning.”
I'm all for second chances but, again, this was a brutal incident that could have ended far worse. Jackson is fortunate that he didn't kill anyone with his car.
Now Jackson will take the year off and try to get his life in order. I hope it works out and that he rejoins the team in a year and becomes productive -- both on and off the court.
As far as the Racers are concerned, they could have used Jackson -- badly. This is a team that lost three starters from last year's 31-2 group -- Donte Poole, Ivan Aska and Jewaun Long. Prohm still has one of the best guards in the nation in Isaiah Canaan and a quality big man, Ed Daniel, as well as UAB transfer Dexter Fields.
However, this is a major blow to the team -- and more importantly to Jackson.
"I care a great deal about Zay and am committed to seeing that he gets the help that he needs," Prohm said. "What he did was wrong, and I want to apologize to everyone that has been negatively affected and embarrassed by his actions. It's not representative of our program and the impact we try to make in the community each year.
“Although the impact on our basketball team is something we'll have to work hard to overcome, I support the direction we are taking with this matter," Prohm said. "I know we have a good group of young men that will work hard to represent Murray State the right way this season.”