If there's one thing that is clear about the decision to "excuse" James Bailey from the IU football team for the rest of the semester, it's that IU Coach Terry Hoeppner wants him back this spring.
The 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman was dismissed by Hoeppner at the start of the week, citing academic issues for the Detroit, Mich., native. While such disciplinary actions are often preludes to eventual exits for the players from their respective college programs, Hoeppner's comments on the subject suggest he very much wants to see Bailey return to the Memorial Stadium complex once the second semester begins.
"It's all boiled down and crystallized to 60 minutes on Saturday between the lines, but our role is so much more than that," said Hoeppner. "I say our program goals are 100 percent graduation and be a champion on the field in the classroom and in life, I sincerely mean it.
"Anything I can do to teach life lessons and to accomplish program goals…then obviously I'm going to do that."
Bailey, IU's second leading receiver with 27 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns, was seriously injured in an automobile accident March 24 along with IU women's basketball player Jamey Chapman. Bailey suffered a broken collarbone, a separated shoulder, three broken ribs, a fractured pelvis and a broken tailbone, leaving him hospitalized for 12 days, and then in a wheelchair for 2 ½ weeks.
"You talk about overcoming a lot of things to even make it to the field this year – to be alive," said Hoeppner. "I told him the other day ‘it's lucky we're not wearing your number on our helmets, and you should feel very fortunate for that.'"
Bailey's absence is a big blow to a IU wide receiving corp that is getting thin. While Bailey will be in Bloomington and miss today's Indiana-Michigan encounter, redshirt freshman James Hardy is considered questionable for the contest as well after going down with an injury in the third quarter against Minnesota.
But that couldn't factor into the decision to excuse Bailey, Hoeppner said.
"I'm not trying to make a point, I'm not trying to make an example of him, but it's something we've arrived at together, and I feel very strongly about it," said Hoeppner.
"That's why they call it the head coach – you have to make those decisions at those points. We're not going to do the easy thing – we're going to do the right thing."
Hoosiers Obviously Want Bailey Back
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