A former football player who was kicked off the team and expelled due to a sexual assault charge is looking to return to the university after he was found not responsible in the incident by a Student Conduct Panel on Jan. 20.
Praise Martin-Oguike, 20, had all charges dropped on the first day of his trial in a Philadelphia court last October after his lawyer, James Funt, introduced as evidence texts from Martin-Oguike’s accuser that painted the relationship as consensual. Funt argued that the accuser threatened the charges in an attempt to lure Martin-Oguike into a committed relationship in spring 2012.
Funt said last week that Martin-Oguike underwent a Student Conduct Panel hearing on Jan. 20 regarding his original charges. Martin-Oguike told The Temple News this past October that he was expelled from the university without receiving a conduct hearing.
Funt said Martin-Oguike is now in the process of enrolling in spring classes and did not expect any further hitches.
Dean of Students Stephanie Ives did not return calls requesting comment on the hearing or Martin-Oguike’s status as a student, however Martin-Oguike’s name currently appears on the Cherry and White Directory of students and faculty.
Funt also said Martin-Oguike hoped to return to the football team, which he played for as a linebacker in 2011, recording three tackles in two games.
Representatives from the football team and athletic department did not respond to requests for comment. Steve Addazio, who was head coach of the Owls in 2011, left the team after the 2012 season to become head coach at Boston College. Coach Matt Rhule was the offensive coordinator for the Owls in 2011.
Martin-Oguike’s sexual assault charge, expulsion and subsequent dismissal of all charges in criminal court, brought about criticism of the school’s Student Code of Conduct policy in relation to athletes, after other members of the football team with criminal charges faced conflicting outcomes from university hearings.
Kamal Johnson, a starting tackle for the Owls, was arrested in Fall 2012 and charged with aggravated assault, among other misdemeanors. Despite pleading guilty in court, Johnson was allowed to stay on the football team and at the university. He started six of 10 games in 2013.
Wyatt Benson, a former starting fullback, was charged with aggravated assault after a fight at a University of Pennsylvania party in August 2013. Benson later was sentenced to community service for simple assault. He was dismissed from the team but allowed to stay at the university.
Olaniyi Adewole, a former linebacker from 2010 to 2012, was charged with aggravated assault last summer. He is currently listed as a student and his trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 10 after it was rescheduled in December.
Martin-Oguike is listed in the College of Liberal Arts in the Cherry and White Directory and had been studying at community college in New Jersey since he was kicked out of the university.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.