The curious case of Central Kitsap's David Stilley

Inside the Huddle: Sports Commentary

David Stilley was never known for hits, which is perhaps ironic that now the former Washington State University pitcher is associated with taking a different kind of hit.

Last November, Stilley, a standout for Central Kitsap High School who earned a spot on the Washington State University baseball team in 2008, was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Stilley was no underachieving stoner. In high school, he earned the team MVP award, three varsity letters and all-Narrows League honors. And just like every boy’s dream, a big time baseball school came calling for the pitcher. He didn’t fare as well at the college level, with a 6.75 ERA his sophomore year, but then again he didn’t get the chance to really show what he could do in just two seasons.

In a decisive move by the university’s coaching staff, Stilley’s Division I baseball career came to an abrupt halt. Two weeks after being ticketed, the 21-year-old junior was dismissed for violating team rules related to his arrest. The details of his citation and the events leading to the bust are still unclear, as is Stilley’s relationship with the Cougars.

But the school’s involvement in punishing student-athletes for marijuana-related issues was far from over.

Starting in December, a slew of pot busts hit the men’s basketball team.

Reggie Moore, Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, all three stars – Thompson and Casto are legit NBA prospects for next year – were each arrested and cited for marijuana possession in Pullman last winter.

The three basketball players were never stripped of their jerseys or scholarships. They got to keep playing. They were able to hit the hardwood and still please fans, friends and family members at Beasley Coliseum.

Strange? When considering all four were cited for essentially the same infraction – misdemeanor possession of pot – yes.

Since his removal from the team, I’ve had a lot of time to wonder why. When considering the facts, it appears the three basketball stars were given preferential treatment.

To wit: It just so happens that Casto’s arrest occurred when the Cougars were playing in the National Invitational Tournament. And I suppose the fact that Thompson’s average of 21.6 points per game, Moore’s nine points a contest and Casto’s total of 12 points and seven rebounds every night had no bearing on their punishments, or lack thereof.

If you believe that, I have to wonder if you might be interested in hearing about a subprime mortgage I have for sale.

Meanwhile, Stilley went 2-2 in seven starts during his sophomore season, his last with Washington State. He appeared in 18 games as a redshirt freshman, totaling a 3-3 record with a 4.63 ERA in nine starts.

When the numbers are crunched, it’s hard not to step back and ask if the performance of a player affects their relationships with school officials, and whether a suspension becomes a dismissal, or a slap on the wrist.

There’s no telling why the three basketball players were allowed to stay, while Stilley was removed. All four violated team rules, all four were accused of a crime, yet only one was dealt with so harshly.

Despite suspensions for Thompson and Moore, albeit minor, Casto did not miss any games last season, which set off a debate between critics and fans about the program’s stern, but unsteady wave of punishments.

On one hand, with Stilley’s dismissal, a standard was set. On the other, with the case of the three basketball players, another standard was set.

Get the feeling that “standard” isn’t the right word here?

It’s a sad story that paints the Cougars’ athletic program with troubling patterns.

As a Washington State alum, I never want my Cougars to lose. However, I want to win with class. Unfortunately, what I think we are seeing is further proof that the college athletics is more of a business than anything. In order for schools to win with class, one standard must be established and all must be held to that standard. If the programs are not consistent in enforcing those standards, then they, by definition, have no standards.

Instead, the expectations of how players conduct themselves rises and falls with how well they perform on gameday.

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