WSU Cougars

WSU player appealing his expulsion from school makes impact in win vs. Idaho

Washington State nose tackle Robert Barber (92) and safety Shalom Luani (18) prepare for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Idaho in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016.
Washington State nose tackle Robert Barber (92) and safety Shalom Luani (18) prepare for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Idaho in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. AP

Senior nose tackle Robert Barber played against Idaho despite his arrest Friday for allegedly giving another WSU student a concussion during a fight at an off-campus house party on July 23.

Barber has also been expelled from school after the WSU student conduct board held its own investigation and hearing on the house party assault. However, Barber is currently in the process of appealing his expulsion, and since he has not been officially charged with any crime, WSU athletic director Bill Moos said football coach Mike Leach would determine Barber’s status with the team.

“I’ve evaluated that from the beginning and I’ve made my thoughts known on the entire thing,” Leach said, when asked about whether he evaluated Barber’s arrest before allowing him to play against Idaho. “I’m not interested in going into any details on that. I think there’s a volume of issues that need to be addressed and hopefully everyone together is successful in addressing them.”

Barber did not start the game despite starting the first two games of the season and all 12 games last year. Instead, Dan Ekuale moved over from defensive end and started at nose tackle, with Nnamdi Oguayo and Hercules Mata’afa taking the two end spots on either side of him.

Barber watched the first two plays from the sideline but entered the game during the first defensive series and played a significant role in the Cougars’ win, totaling three tackles and blocking Idaho kicker Austin Rehkow’s 32-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter -- a key play that resulted in Marcellus Pippin’s touchdown return.

The Cougs got their first win of the year

Free safety Shalom Luani, who has been booked for second-degree assault, started at his normal spot, but bounced between free safety and nickelback after Parker Henry left the game with what appeared to be an undisclosed injury.

Linebacker Logan Tago, who has been booked for robbery, also played but did not start. Tago and Dylan Hanser split reps at rush linebacker.

Barber, Tago and Luani have not yet been charged with any crimes but their cases have been forwarded to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office, Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said Friday.

Cougars safety Robert Taylor said the off-the-field incidents that results in the arrests of three defensive starters were not a distraction for the team this week.

“I don’t think it affected us at all,” Taylor said. You mind your business and just do your thing and focus on the task at hand. We don’t worry about no off-field issues. We just go out there and play and continue to do what our coaches say.”

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