AMES — Bubu Palo is eligible to return to the Iowa State men’s basketball team. For now, at least.
According to a university news release, a district court judge ruled Thursday that Palo, a 6-foot-1 senior reserve guard from Ames, should be “temporarily allowed” to rejoin the Cyclones’ team, pending future court proceedings.
A final hearing date has not been set.
“We are disappointed to learn of the district court judge’s decision to reinstate Bubu Palo to our men’s basketball team,” Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “We believe the university should have the sole right and responsibility to determine any student’s participation in extracurricular activities.”
Coach Fred Hoiberg spoke with the media Thursday and was asked about Palo’s reinstatement.
“I just found out about it, guys, a couple hours ago, so at this time I’m not ready to comment on it,” Hoiberg said. “The one thing I can tell you at this time is he will not travel to Texas with us (for a game Saturday) and then we’ll go from there.”
Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim — who is also Palo’s roommate — had more to say.
“Obviously, we’re excited to have Bubu back, but right now we’re focused on Texas,” Ejim said. “We’re focused on getting on the road and getting one of these wins.”
Ejim said he hadn’t been able to talk to Palo about the news but expected to last night. He said Palo’s case had not served as a distraction to the team.
“I don’t know if I can say it’s a distraction, because we’re 14-2,” Ejim said. “That’s pretty good. Is it tough to see one of your friends, teammates, roommates going through something like that? Definitely, but you’ve got to find a way to put that aside and play the game.”
Palo was suspended for 18 games last season after second-degree sexual abuse charges were filed against him in May 2012. The charge was dropped, but Palo also was subject to the school’s code of conduct policy.
Palo had been removed from the team a second time in late August after a university appeals process that ended at President Steven Leath’s desk overturned a ruling that allowed him to return to the team.Palo took his case to the Iowa Board of Regents, which upheld Iowa State’s ban. Palo persisted, asking a district court to hear the case — an action that led to Thursday’s issuance of a stay.