Better late than never.
The axiom held true last Thursday when it was announced that the Longhorns had reinstated Jordan Etier — who was arrested last October and charged with possession of marijuana, as well as evading arrest — to the baseball program. The initial punishment did not come close to fitting the crime but following a reexamination of Etier’s regressions, a more appropriate penalty was levied on the senior second baseman.
After Etier was seen urinating under a bridge in downtown Austin, police pursued him to the second floor of a parking garage. During the chase, Etier dropped an ATM card and about two-thirds of an ounce of marijuana. He was kept in Travis County Jail on $2,000 bond and the senior-to-be was dismissed from the Texas baseball program two days following his arrest.
“After the University decided to revisit the situation,” according to a statement made by Longhorns head coach Augie Garrido this past week, Etier was allowed to return to the team. The former Westlake High star will serve a four-game suspension and will not receive an athletic scholarship for playing this upcoming season.
What Etier did that Saturday afternoon three months ago was undoubtedly wrong and a clear and misguided lapse in judgment. But, especially considering the fact that many Texas football players have received much more lenient punishments for more serious offenses over the past decade, Etier did not deserve to get kicked off the team.
Cedric Benson, who rushed for more than 5,500 yards as a Longhorn, was arrested twice during his time on the 40 Acres. Former Longhorns cornerback Tarell Brown, a member of the 2005 national title-winning squad and starter for the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, was caught with a loaded handgun and twice as much marijuana as Etier was caught with. Both Benson and Brown were suspended one game over the course of their college football careers.
Even Etier’s coach, the all-time leader in wins in Division I, was recently in trouble with law. Garrido was charged with drunk driving after being pulled over January 2007. Six months later, the longtime Longhorns skipper was sentenced to four days in jail and, like Etier, was handed a four-game suspension.
“[Etier] showed his intention to continue his education and graduate from the University of Texas whether or not he was a member of the team,” Garrido said. “It was decided by the administration to bring the punishment more in line with Jordan’s wrongdoing.”
With Etier back in the lineup, Texas will bring back all but two of last year’s starting infielders as catcher Jacob Felts and third baseman Erich Weiss also return. Etier batted .237 while starting all but five of the Longhorns’ five contests last season, hitting two home runs, stealing six bases, and driving in 26 runs. He was not a particularly imposing presence in the batter’s box but was an asset as a middle infielder, leading the team with 187 assists in 2011.
Thanks to the Texas athletic administration’s willingness to act on its better judgment, Etier will remain an asset in the Longhorns’ infield. Etier had to be reprimanded for what he did but there was no reason to cut his college baseball career a season short.