Senior cornerback Chris L. Rucker has been reinstated to the MSU football team, head coach Mark Dantonio announced Thursday.
“I have known and have watched Chris L. Rucker for four years on the field, in the classroom, in the community and as a team member,” Dantonio said in a statement. “The poor decision he made had need for serious consequences which he has now met and resolved from a team and legal perspective. It does not; however, rise to a lifetime banishment.
“Our decision to immediately reinstate Chris has been endorsed by the team’s unity council and the program at-large. This was a difficult decision. After much soul searching and dialogue with those who are vested in the program, I am comfortable and confident in the decision I have made.”
Rucker was released from the Ingham County Jail on Thursday. He served eight days for violating his probation, which stemmed from his involvement in a November 2009 assault in Rather Hall.
Rucker also received two years probation for one count of reckless driving.
Dantonio said the decision to travel and play against No. 18 Iowa on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC) will be left up to Rucker.”
“My decisions can never be only about the next game,” Dantonio said. “The scoreboard I most care about has very little to do with a Saturday in October. This is about positioning a young man for a successful and productive future. Again, I am very sorry for his actions and irresponsibility. It is my hope that we can forgive his actions and move forward.”
Dantonio said he would hold himself accountable for Rucker’s reinstatement.
“I made this call, and I should be held accountable. I hold myself accountable,” Dantonio said. “To some critics, it might be seen as a low-percentage call or the wrong decision. It is neither. To me, our coaches, and our entire team – the men in the arena – it was the right call for the right reasons.
“Each case, like every young man on this team or every other student at this university, is different.”
Rucker was arrested Oct. 10 in East Lansing for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. At the time of his arrest, he had a blood-alcohol content of .10. In Michigan, the legal blood-alcohol content for drivers older than 21 is .08. Rucker is 22 years old.
A copy of the ticket issued to Rucker indicated a vehicle accident occurred.
Rucker received the probation sentence after pleading guilty to assault and battery in the November 2009 incident in which 15 MSU football players allegedly attacked students and members of a fraternity.
Under the stipulations of the probation, he was not allowed to “purchase, possess or consume alcohol or illegal drugs.” The probation also prohibits Rucker from going to the bar.
“I have been asked about last year’s statement regarding zero tolerance. Zero tolerance means exactly that. We have no tolerance for Chris L. Rucker’s actions,” Dantonio said. “I repeat, I have no tolerance for his actions. He was immediately suspended. He has served his civil punishment, and there are other internal disciplinary measures nobody will know about outside the program. Again, zero tolerance does not mean automatic dismissal.”
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