COUGARS NOTEBOOK: WSU loses DL Roof, OL Rowlands in same day

By all accounts from people associated with the Washington State University football program, troubled defensive lineman Andy Roof had “completely changed his life around.”

But Roof’s recent turn for the good and improved conduct mattered little to the members of the Washington State University Student Conduct Board. The panel consisting of WSU faculty, grad students and students voted to expel Roof from the university on Tuesday.

“I was very disappointed when I heard the decision,” first-year head coach Paul Wulff said during Tuesday’s conference call. “Since I arrived on campus, Andy has been a great leader for this program on the field, in the locker room, in the classroom, and done everything we asked, that we ask of all student-athletes. From where he was a year ago, he has changed his life around 180 degrees, and as a coaching staff we have seen the positive impact he made on this program.”

It was a day of double trouble for the Cougars, who also announced that senior offensive lineman Dan Rowlands has been forced to quit the team because of chronic pain in both shoulders.

Rowlands made 21 starts in his WSU career, including all 12 games last season at right guard. He had been pencilled in as a starter again this season.

In Roof’s case, the sins of his past simply weighed too heavily. Because of well-documented and repeated alcohol violations since coming to WSU, Roof was suspended for all of last season. It appeared that he was on the road back to reinstatement until an incident occurred on April 26 when a brawl broke out at an on-campus party.

Roof was arrested and alleged to have hit or shoved one or more people while being intoxicated. However, Roof claimed to have acted in self-defense and disputed the fact that he had been drinking, repeatedly asking for a blood-alcohol test, which was never given. Whitman County prosecutors continue to investigate the incident and hadn’t charged Roof with a crime, as of Tuesday. But the Student Conduct Board didn’t wait for a police decision, instead announcing the decision on the second day of classes at WSU.

Roof’s future is uncertain.

Because of changes to NCAA rules, he cannot transfer to an Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) school like Eastern Washington or Portland State. He would have needed to have at least two years of eligibility. He can, however, transfer to a Division II school such as Central Washington or Western Washington to play his one remaining season.

Wulff said he recommend Roof to any school interested.

Wulff hadn’t talked to Roof before the conference call, but a few assistants talked with the player and reported that “he was disappointed, but doing OK,” according to Wulff.

Wulff’s tone of voice was one of disappointment, particularly when someone asked about length of time it took for the Student Conduct Board to make a decision, which greatly limited Roof’s options.

The decision also leaves an air of uncertainty about the Cougars’ defensive line. Roof was probably going to be a major figure in the defensive line rotation. Instead, sophomore Toby Turpin will take his spot as the No. 2 right defensive tackle.

“It’s going to be an impact, there’s no question,” Wulff said. “A team that’s already thin in a lot of areas just takes another hit.”

Quick kicks

Sophomore receiver Daniel Blackledge will probably suit up for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State at Qwest Field, but whether he actually plays remains to be seen. Blackledge has been slowed by a sore knee this spring. Freshman Jared Karstetter is listed as the starter at the X-position ahead of Blackledge. ... Running back Dwight Tardy will start on Saturday. However, Wulff doesn’t think Tardy is in football shape enough to carry the ball 15 times. Instead, he’ll use three or four running backs to handle the duties.