If an indefinite suspension from competition happens when there are no games, does it really happen at all?
That is the philosophical question (I know, but it's late July, give me a break here) that popped to mind Tuesday afternoon, when Oregon State announced indefinite suspensions of forwards Devon Collier and Eric Moreland for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The short statement from Oregon State coach Craig Robinson arrived via email:
"Senior forward Devon Collier and junior forward Eric Moreland are suspended indefinitely from competition for violation of team rules. They will be allowed to participate with the team in summer workouts and strength/conditioning activities while attending summer school classes."
Which obviously leads to the question: If Collier and Moreland can still attend classes and participate in individual workouts, and they have their suspensions lifted before the start of the 2013-14 season in November -- three months-plus is a long time to be suspended, after all -- were they ever really suspended in the first place? Does that punishment have teeth? Is the public announcement prohibitive enough?
The answers: I don't know! The violation of team rules obviously wasn't disclosed, and Oregon State's only addendum to its announcement statement read as follows: "Oregon State officials will have no further comment at this time." There's no telling what Collier and Moreland did, or what kind of punishment such things usually entails. (And where college kids and minor team violations are concerned, not knowing is usually OK by me.)
That said, if either does end up missing games for Oregon State -- provided those games go beyond the time-tested-coach-approved approach of suspending players for early-season cupcakes -- the impact will be immediately noticeable. Collier is one of the best talents of the Robinson era. Moreland is a 6-foot-10 force on the glass, particularly on the defensive boards, where he pulled down a whopping 27.5 percent of available defensive rebounds last season, fifth-best in all of college basketball. Indeed, Moreland might be the biggest concern -- he still has two years of eligibility left at Oregon State, but this is already the second time this year he's been suspended "indefinitely" for running afoul of Robinson's expectations.
Chances are, if Collier and Moreland are not in so much trouble as to be totally removed from summertime activities (or outright dismissed from the team), they will be back before Oregon State's schedule gets too hairy. But if they miss more time -- or if these issues, whatever they are, pop up again -- it could be a major blow in an absolutely pivotal year for Robinson's program.