AMES — Bubu Palo finally took his seat.
Back on the bench as an Iowa State basketball player for the first time since last season, everything suddenly felt right.
“It was nice to get into some sort of regular habit and be back in there,” said Palo, whose twists and turns through the ISU and state-wide legal system led to him being temporarily reinstated to the team late last week. “It was definitely still a little weird, but it’s nice to get that first game out of the way. Hopefully now it will be a little smoother from here on out.”
It’s been anything but smooth to this point.
In September 2012, Palo and another man were charged with second-degree sexual abuse and he was suspended indefinitely from the team for violating the school’s code of conduct policy.
The charges were dropped in January 2013 and it was subsequently determined Palo had not violated the code of conduct policy, which allowed him to return to the team.
But an appeal to ISU President Steven Leath led to a finding that Palo had indeed violated the code of conduct, and in late August the university announced he’d been removed from the team again.
Palo’s attorneys appealed to the Iowa Board of Regents, which upheld Leath’s decision.
Palo then appealed to district court, where on Jan. 16, a judge granted Palo a stay, allowing him to be temporarily reinstated.
The Iowa State Attorney General's office, on behalf of the Board of Regents, petitioned the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday for a stay on the district court’s stay.
Friday, the Supreme Court denied that stay, and Palo joined his teammates on the floor for Saturday’s 81-75 win over Kansas State.
“Bubu’s suited up,” Leath said at halftime. “He’s on the team. It is what it is right now. Obviously, I disagreed because I saw this differently than the judicial system outside of campus.”
Leath said the appeals process that led to his Aug. 30 decision “was very thoughtful.”
“Spent a tremendous amount of time on all the material, from tapes to written material. And I had one of our most experienced faculty members who handles grievances on campus look at it at the same time. We tried to be as careful and thoughtful as we possibly could be.”
Palo didn’t play Saturday, nor is Coach Fred Hoiberg obligated to play him.
Hoiberg declined comment on the situation after the game.
Palo, who averaged 2.8 points in 17 games last season, said he’s relieved the process has reached this point — back on the court, even if not on the stat sheet.“Whether it’s scout team or preparing or being ready for if foul trouble or whatever comes down the road, whatever the team needs me to do I’m satisfied with that,” he said.