Missouri women's basketball reinstates suspended players

Thursday, December 17, 2009 | 4:43 p.m. CST; updated 7:49 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 17, 2009

COLUMBIA — Two Missouri women’s basketball players who had been suspended last week have been reinstated, according to a statement released Thursday by the MU athletics department.

The team's leading scorers, Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson, return to the team after they were arrested Dec. 11 on suspicion of third-degree assault. The players admitted to involvement in an altercation with a male MU cheerleader at his Columbia apartment, but Wednesday charges in the case were dropped.   

Hanneman and Johnson will resume practicing with the team on Friday, but they will not play in Missouri’s next game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday at Mizzou Arena. The pair missed the Tigers' home victory over Murray State last Monday .

“We take very seriously the behavior of our student-athletes and the roles that they must fulfill on and off the court,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said in the release. “We again apologize to our Mizzou community for the perception that this situation caused us all.”

The decision was made Thursday after Stein met with MU Athletics Director Mike Alden.

Columbia Police said that around 2 a.m. on Dec. 11, MU cheerleader Justin Short called police complaining there were people who would not leave his apartment at 36 N. Cedar Lake Drive. When police arrived, Short said he had been assaulted by the players and he was taken to a hospital with a swollen nose and a cut on his eye.

Hanneman and Johnson told police they were attempting to stop a fight, and after interviewing several witnesses, Boone County assistant prosecutor Ryan Haigh decided not to pursue charges in the case.

 “The statements of those who allegedly witnessed the events varied to a significant degree," Haigh said Wednesday. "One thing that was consistent was that most people involved had been drinking.”

 Short was also suspended after the incident and has not been reinstated, according to athletic department spokesman Chad Moller. MU spirit squads coach Suzy Thompson said a decision will be made Monday.

Hanneman and Johnson have not been available to talk to media.

"Because there is nothing to talk about," Kate Lakin, assistant director of media relations for the team, said via text message. "The story is over."

This season, Johnson has scored 14.1 points a game and Hanneman averages 13.3. Hanneman, a senior from Blue Springs, leads the team with 3.1 three-point field goals per game. Injury plagued for most of her career at Missouri, Hanneman averaged only 4 points per game in her first three seasons. She has blossomed as a star for the Tigers this season, helping Missouri to a 7-2 record, its best since 2006-2007.

Johnson, a senior from Fayette, became the 27th player at Missouri to reach 1,000 points when she accomplished the feat Dec. 8 in a victory at Bradley. Johnson also has a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game.

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Michael Moore December 18, 2009 | 10:06 a.m.

Laskin's right; there's nothing to talk about - because *nothing* happens to MU jocks who commit crimes here. I've seen it as long as I've lived in Columbia and so have all the rest of you - assaults, rapes, thefts - and nothing is done about it. It's not the "Mizzou community" that Stein and her colleagues owe an apology to; it's the whole city.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 18, 2009 | 10:40 a.m.

If these ladies were defending a friend by fending off an assault, as has been alleged by several people, then Stein owes no one any apology and the end result of this turned out fairly.

Though we guys will do it as a matter of machismo, it's highly unusual for women to engage in unprovoked attacks.

The self-defense or defending a friend explanation sounds far more plausible.

(Report Comment)
Lady Tiger Fan December 18, 2009 | 11:19 a.m.

They did apologize to their team mates and the community!
So with that, folks need to deal with it and be done with it!

(Report Comment)
Michael Moore December 18, 2009 | 3:52 p.m.

You're absolutely right, LTF. Saying you're sorry after you beat people up, or steal from them, or fire a cannon into traffic, even, is more than enough. In fact, let's make that the standard for everyone else in Columbia, too! It'd take a lot of burden off our poor overworked DA. And take the pressure off MU administrators to keep reminding the City to look the other way. Heck, if we could all just say we're sorry and walk away, it'd solve that pesky downtown surveillance camera agrument, too!

(Report Comment)

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