Brooks right about Johnson decision

Rich Brooks got it right.

UK’s head football coach was correct to allow wide receiver Steve Johnson Jr. to play in last Saturday’s game against Eastern Kentucky after Johnson was arrested earlier in the week. Johnson pleaded not guilty to four traffic violations and a charge of resisting arrest after a traffic stop last Wednesday evening.

Lexington police pulled over the senior wide receiver around 7:30 p.m., while on the way to visit teammate David Jones in the hospital.

It is impossible to make a judgment on Johnson’s innocence or guilt until the case plays out in the courts. For that reason, Brooks’ decision to allow Johnson to play is a just one.

Two events in the past year have proven the negatives of rushing to judgment when athletes are arrested. When Duke lacrosse players were accused of a gang rape in 2006 the school responded by immediately canceling the team’s season. All charges were later dropped after the accuser recanted and evidence did not support the claims.

A similar case happened on UK’s campus last year. UK soccer player Michael Strong was suspended from the team immediately after he was charged with rape. The charges were later dropped.

Both Strong and the Duke lacrosse players were punished for crimes they did not commit. While it is possible that Johnson is guilty, recent history shows us that it would be unfair for him to be punished until that guilt is proven in a court of law.

Until then, let him play.