At Utah, athletic department policy states that no felon can receive a scholarship. Fauonuku pleaded guilty to second-degree felony robbery that will likely be reduced to a third-degree felony at his final disposition hearing on March 3. In addition, because Fauonuku was a juvenile at the time of the incident, his crime will then be recorded as a "delinquent act" and not a felony. That reclassification may pave the way for him to play next season at Utah.
"I'm of the opinion that most of the time people deserve a second chance," Utes coach Kyle Whittingham says. "Every case has to be evaluated separately, but we believe if the court gives a kid a second chance, we give the kid a second chance."
Asked if the acceptance of Fauonuku's letter of intent was evidence that the school was comfortable admitting him, Whittingham said that signing Fauonuku "was an act of good faith pending the outcome of the situation."
If Fauonuku doesn't get admitted to Utah, he'll land somewhere; he says Oregon State, Boise State, Washington State and other schools were recruiting him as recently as December, and none of the recruiters indicated to him then that whatever he did in that garage in West Jordan last March would prevent him from playing college football. He says he just wants to get a scholarship and become the first person in his family to attend college. What school does he think he'll end up at?
"Well, basically, whoever will take me," he says. "Just doesn't matter as long as I'm playing ball."
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