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Topeka Capital-Journal (Kansas)
August 22, 2013 Thursday
|Washburn stands by decision to give Moore second chance
Rick Peterson Jr..
Washburn football coach Craig Schurig knows there will be people who claim that the decision to put a convicted felon back on the team has more to do with Vershon Moore's talent on the field than anything else.
Schurig understands the criticism, but he maintains Moore is being brought back to the program for the right reasons.
"I hope it's to give a kid a second chance and give a kid a future," Schurig said. "You try not to cloud your mind. It's a benefit that he's a very good player, but it's more about the way he is inside. The type of person he is, I think we all believe in that more than his ability out here on the field."
Schurig said he was in "total shock" when Moore was arrested in connection with the armed robbery of a Topeka credit union in 2011, saying the incident was completely out of character for the running back from Spencer, Okla.
Moore later pled guilty to one count of bank robbery and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. He was released this summer and is back at Washburn, practicing with the team.
Washburn athletic director Loren Ferré said it wasn't a difficult decision to allow Moore to rejoin the program.
"I think Coach Schurig and all our coaches view (the team) as a family," Ferré said. "Vershon was part of the football team and part of the Washburn family. He made a mistake and served his time. You just don't turn your back on somebody because they make a mistake."
However, some will argue Moore is undeserving of the chance to resume his college football career.
"I think everybody is entitled to their opinion," Ferré said. "We know everybody may not be supportive of this, but we have to really look into what's in the best interest of the young man, Vershon. We really felt that he wanted to complete his education and he wanted to be successful in his life. We felt it was important to help him achieve those goals."
Schurig remained in contact with Moore throughout his prison sentence, never closing the door on a return to the team.
"I think he had a goal... 'Hey, maybe in a couple of years I'll have an opportunity, if everything works and I do my part, to get a second chance.' '' Schurig said.
"When we talked to him, we wanted to try to motivate him and try to give him something to look forward to."
Now, the Ichabods can look forward to the return of Moore, who ranks eighth all-time on Washburn's career rushing list with 1,968 yards in two seasons.
"He's highly motivated to be successful on the field and in the classroom and in life," Schurig said. "He's in good shape."
Schurig said he he's been pleased with how his players have responded to Moore's return.
"At his position, there could be guys that are like, 'Hey, I've waited two years to play,' " he said. "But they've seen Vershon and know that he's pretty talented.
"I think with his actions and the way he's approaching things, our guys see that he's going to be a great teammate."
Ferré said the program doesn't feel the need to monitor Moore any closer than the other athletes at Washburn.
"Once he has served his time and paid his debt for the crime he committed, then we welcome him back and treat him like any other player," he said.
Ferré and Schurig didn't reveal whether Moore is on scholarship. Schurig said he doesn't make that information public about any of his players.
Moore's availability for this season will be determined by conditions of his parole.
"Everything that we know, he'll be certified and eligible NCAA-wise," Schurig said. "We don't control the other stuff.
"We're still trying to work out some details (on Moore's availability). We'll know more in the next couple weeks."
Schurig said he fully expects Moore to take advantage of the rare opportunity he is getting.
"Our hope is he graduates from here and has two great years here," he said. "Then maybe he can go out and use his experience to help others. That's what his plan is. It seems like he has a calling for it."
August 22, 2013