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COURT RULING: Judge Sets Aside Bubu Palo’s Ban

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An Iowa district judge has issued a temporary ruling that could open the door for former ISU basketball player Bubu Palo to rejoin the team.

Judge Thomas Bice of the Second Judicial District of Iowa issued a temporary ruling January 10th that sets aside the Iowa Board of Regents order banning Palo from participating as a member of the Iowa State basketball team.

Palo was suspended from the team in 2012 after he was charged with second degree sexual abuse by the Story County Attorney. The charge was dropped in January of 2013 and Palo was reinstated on the ISU basketball team. He played in 17 games for the Cyclones during the 2012-2013 season.

In September of 2012, Iowa State’s Office of Judicial Affairs charged Palo with violating the university’s Code of Conduct relating the sexual misconduct. An Administrative Law Judge from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals ruled the accusations were “not founded.”

Iowa State and the alleged victim appealed the ALJ’s decision and the appeal was decided, as mandated by protocol, by ISU President Steven Leath.

Leath ruled Palo had violated the Code of Conduct and barred him from participating in intercollegiate athletics as a member of the Cyclone basketball team.

Palo appealed to the Iowa Board of Regents, but the board affirmed Leath’s decision. Palo then filed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents.

Judge Bice’s temporary ruling that Palo not be kept from playing basketball as a member of Iowa State’s team included several “significant facts” that Bice found “troubling” in the case.

The facts include that Palo is still a student at Iowa State University in “good standing” and remains on athletic scholarship even though he is barred from competing. Judge Bice also says Palo’s academic performance at ISU is “exceptional.”

Questions about the Board of Regents’ decision were also raised by the judge in his ruling.

"The Iowa Board of Regents also alleges that having Mr. Palo on the ISU basketball team tarnishes the University's reputation and image and presents a threat to other students. If this is true, then why renew Mr. Palo's scholarship, allow him to remain a student in "good standing," and have full and unrestricted privileges as an ISU student, other than participating in basketball? Further, if these claims are truly believed, then why was he reinstated to the basketball team during the 2012-13 season and allowed to participate in 17 games?" Bice asks.

He calls the decision a “rubber stamp” of President Leath’s ruling and, “at best, short and contains neither discussion nor analysis of the underlying facts of the case.”

The judge has not made a final ruling on Palo’s lawsuit against the Iowa Board of Regents.

Channel 13 has reached out to the Board of Regents but have not heard back. Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard responded saying he was "disappointed" with the judge's decision.

Read the judge's ruling here.