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Richmond suits up for scrimmage

Updated: Tuesday, August 12 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Steubenville Big Red football player Ma'lik Richmond took to the field for a scrimmage game Tuesday morning against Cambridge.
On Monday, for the first time, Big Red football coach Reno Saccoccia explained Richmond's return to the team in this exclusive interview.
"Number 1, I want to thank you for sitting down with me and asking me questions so we get it all straight," Saccoccia said. "And secondly, it was a horrible crime -- it was a horrible crime. Everything the judicial system of Ohio asked him to do, he completed. Everything the school system asked him to do upon his release, he completed both academically and socially.
"He was back in school since January and was suspended from all extracurricular activities for the remainder of the year. I feel that we're not really giving him a second chance. Some may look at it like that. I feel he has earned a second chance. We don't deal in death sentences for juvenile activity, and I just feel that he's earned a second chance. I've thought about it hard, and I'm with that decision. He's one of 55 players that are in good standing with their teammates and their coaches who have the same opportunity as any other player."
Richmond, one of two people convicted in the 2012 Steubenville teen rape, served 9 months of his 1-year sentence in juvenile detention, is currently on probation, and must register as a sex offender every 6 months.
Ohio High School Athletic Association Information Director Tim Stried said Richmond’s eligibility is covered in the association’s bylaws.
"This particular situation is horrible,” Stried said. “As it is, we are bound by the bylaws, and that means that the school can decide if the student athlete participates. The school has decided in this case to let the student athlete participate.
“They did follow us and ask if they were missing anything in the bylaws that they should hold this student athlete out, and we did clarify that it is up to the school to determine if the student athlete participates. I think some schools would have handled it differently. I think we can give guidance, but we are bound by the bylaws that the schools have adopted."
Stried did say those rules can change, but only if the member schools elect to do so when they meet each May.
The school believes Richmond has earned his second chance.
The other teen convicted in the rape case, Trent Mays, is serving a 2-year sentence in juvenile detention and is scheduled to be released in January.

Richmond suits up for scrimmage

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