Yes, it was complicated. Cephus, a Badgers wide receiver from Macon, Georgia, was formally reinstated Monday, a year after he had been accused of by two women and found in violation of the student code of conduct. He was suspended last August and expelled from Wisconsin at the end of the 2018 semester.
Cephus was acquitted of all charges on Aug. 2 by a Dane County jury that took about 30 minutes to make its decision.
The expulsion was vacated from his school record, a source told CBS Sports.
"Almost a year to the day Quintez had to tell his teammates he had to take a leave of absence, we fought and argued fairly vociferously for a crime he didn't commit," Cephus' attorney, Stephen Meyer, told CBS Sports. "We're grateful the university looked at all the facts."
After Cephus was acquitted, Badgers coach Paul Chryst advocated for his return. The decision for him to return was made by Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank.
"I know the past year has been painful for everyone involved," Blank said in a statement. "I recognize that some will disagree with this decision. To those in our community who have experienced sexual assault, I sincerely hope that there is nothing in this case that will deter [persons] from coming forward for support."
Because Cephus was not a student in good academic standing due to the expulsion, Wisconsin was the only NCAA school he could have played for this season. Cephus could have dropped down to junior college or small-college NAIA.
"The institution that expelled him and suspended him, [was] really his own football lifeline," Meyer said.
He is now considered a student in good standing at Wisconsin. Cephus has two years of eligibility remaining after catching 34 passes for six touchdowns combined in 2016 and 2017. He was academic All-Big Ten in 2017.
Sources told CBS Sports there was extensive video and text evidence that worked in Cephus' favor. African-American community leaders, Cephus' teammates and fans advocated for his return. Meyer hinted that if Cephus wasn't allowed to return, he would have sued.
University spokesman John Lucas told Madison.com that the university's review upheld earlier findings that Cephus was responsible for violating parts of the student code. Some sanctions are still in place. Lucas did not elaborate further.
Meyer said Cephus gave authorities his cell phone, its password, permission to search and a DNA sample.
"I've been practicing law for 40 years. … I've never had a verdict this fast," Meyer said. "When is the last time there has been a sexual assault prosecution where the jurors go public wishing the accused best wishes? This was a question about burden of proof.
"As another juror said, 'It was clear. There just wasn't an issue.' … There wasn't any request for exhibits. They went in, went to the bathroom, elected the foreperson, and they were ready."
During the investigation and trial, Meyer said Cephus told him, "I have chosen not to hate. If I do, it would consume me. I just do not want to go down that path."