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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Accused athletes return to football team

New Mexico head coach Bob Davie has reinstated running back Crusoe Gongbay and cornerback SaQwan Edwards to the football team after the District Attorney’s Office determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The two returned to practice last week during training camp in Ruidoso, and are eligible to play in the Aug. 30 season opener.

“It was my decision,” Davie said last week at a press conference. “Back in April, I suspended those two from the team because it was a criminal case and they were charged criminally. The reason I’m reinstating them is because I received word from both attorneys that the criminal case has been dismissed and it’s closed.”

Davie has told reporters since the day of the alleged incident that he’s had many sleepless nights thinking about what happened.

After being informed last Tuesday about the dismissal of the criminal kidnapping and rape charges, Davie was comfortable with his decision to bring back Gongbay and Edwards.

“To be a part of the football (team) is not someone’s right; that’s a privilege,” Davie said. “I’d add to that as well that I wasn’t there that night. They were charged criminally, and what I understand from the attorneys is that this was a thorough investigation. I wasn’t there and I’m not in a position (to say) that they did act below the line of what I expect from the football team.”

The University is still conducting its own investigation, but Davie said he doesn’t believe that is enough justification for Gongbay and Edwards to stay suspended.

“Obviously it’s a concern to myself and to the players,” he said. “Honestly, I weighed that as well, but that UNM investigation has been ongoing and those players were in school and on scholarship all through the summer.”

Before his suspension, Gongbay was considered by many following the team to be the starter at the running back position this season. The senior rushed for 592 yards last season on 97 attempts. Edwards started at cornerback last year for UNM and was slated to start again before the suspension.

Gongbay and Edwards missed about two weeks of fall camp, but Davie said they’ll both have a chance to earn back their starting positions. However, he said, they’re not guaranteed anything.

“I think that both of them realize that both of them have a lot of competition at the running back position and the defensive back position.” Davie said. “Nothing’s going to be given. I won’t hold this against them, nor will I give them any favors. The best guys will play.”

Thomas Romero-Salas is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter

@ThomasRomeroS.