CLEMSON - Troy Mathis, the Clemson basketball freshman who was suspended from school for a year pending a university review after a September altercation on campus, had that suspension reduced via appeal Thursday.
Mathis was officially suspended from school for the current semester. He can reapply for admission in January, which is expected to be a formality, but has been suspended from competition for one year. Mathis will be able to practice with the team upon his return in January, but will not be allowed to play for the Tigers until the fall of 2005.
Mathis will retain the six credit hours he earned during the last summer school session, but all of his academic work during this current semester is wiped out.
Between the spring semester and summer school next year, Mathis must complete at least 18 credit hours to be eligible to play in the 2005-06 season.
He also must perform 50 hours of community service.
"He's got to do well academically so he can be eligible this time next year," head coach Oliver Purnell said. "Troy wants to come back. We want him to come back. It's a decision that's tough on him. But it's a decision I feel that's fair. We have standards in our basketball program that all of our players have to live up to, and when they don't there will be consequences.
"I also believe Troy has learned a lot from this, as a number of our guys have. And coaches as well. And when you have an opportunity to learn (from a mistake) and you're not irreparably harmed, I think it's a good thing.
"This time next year Troy could be sitting here with 25-30 credit hours under his belt. He'll be a better player. He will have learned a lesson from this and he'll have four years to play. So when I look at the situation in that light I think it's a fair one."
Mathis was one of 23 students who were charged with violating the university's student code of conduct which, according to school policy, can happen even if criminal charges were not involved.
Two teammates, senior Sharrod Ford and fellow freshman Cheyenne Moore, also were initially suspended from school, but their suspensions were overturned during the first step in the appeals process. When Mathis' wasn't, his final appeal was heard by school President James Barker, who ultimately rendered the decision announced Thursday.
Mathis, speaking to reporters for the first time since the altercation, said he plans to see the process through and will be back in school come Jan.
"Definitely. My intention is to play at Clemson University," he said. "I've formed a relationship with the coaches and the players, relationships that go further than basketball. I definitely plan to be here."
With Mathis out, sophomore Vernon Hamilton and freshman Cliff Hammonds will handle most of the duties at point guard. Purnell said junior Shawon Robinson, the starting off guard, will also see time at the point if the need arises.
Clemson opens its regular season at 8 p.m. next Friday, hosting Hampton at Littlejohn Coliseum.