MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus was declared eligible to play Friday, a year after he was suspended in the fallout from a sexual assault allegation that resulted in his acquittal by a jury at trial.
Cephus was suspended from the team in August 2018 after he was charged with second- and third-degree sexual assault. Prosecutors filed the counts after two women accused him of sexually assaulting both of them in his apartment that April when they were too drunk to consent. Cephus maintained the sex was consensual and one of his accusers arranged the encounter.
A jury acquitted Cephus of the charges earlier this month and Chancellor Rebecca Blank allowed him to return to school. The athletic department said he wasn’t eligible to play in games but didn’t elaborate. Wisconsin football spokesman Brian Lucas said Friday that Cephus was ineligible because he did not fulfill the NCAA’s credit requirements in the spring semester.
The NCAA granted a waiver restoring his eligibility for the 19th-ranked Badgers, who open the season Aug. 30 at South Florida.
Cephus tweeted that he’s thankful he can play again. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound junior earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors in 2017 before not seeing the field last season.
Cephus played in 23 games for Wisconsin in 2016 and 2017, including 13 starts, hauling in 34 passes for 595 yards and six touchdowns. The Georgia native also has nine career carries for 46 rushing yards.
Cephus accumulated 501 yards receiving in the 2017 season and led the team with six touchdown catches despite breaking his right leg against Indiana and missing the final five games of the season.
Cephus returned to practice on Wednesday. Coach Paul Chryst said then that Cephus didn’t get a “ton of reps” but it as “great having him out here.”
“But it was his first practice, so you just treat him a guy who’s at his first practice,” Chryst said. “Certainly he’s excited to be back with a group that means a ton to him. I haven’t asked him anything specific like how do you feel, but certainly everyone has gone through a lot, him being one of them.”