Buffalo’s Justin Moss, the MAC Player of the Year, accused of theft

Justin Moss may have to miss some time next season following a theft. (USATSI)
Justin Moss may have to miss some time next season. (USATSI)

Buffalo’s Justin Moss may not get a chance to defend his MAC Player of the Year title this year, pending the result of a hearing at the university following his involvement in an on-campus theft.

The Buffalo News has the details.

The status of University at Buffalo star basketball player Justin Moss is uncertain in the wake of his involvement in an on-campus theft.

Moss and fellow UB basketball players Raheem Johnson and Mory Diane were caught in June stealing money – a total of $650 – from the dorm room of two other students on the Amherst Campus, according to a University Police report obtained by The News.

The basketball players returned the money and the two victims in the case agreed to not press charges. However, the case was turned over to the Student-Wide Judiciary, which handles student misconduct.

The Student-Wide Judiciary conducts hearings on cases of student misconduct. It is believed a hearing on the case had been scheduled at some time in the past two weeks.

Possible punishment by that body for the players? At worst, a student-athlete could be expelled. A source told The News it’s possible Moss (and the others) could be deemed ineligible for the first semester of the season, during which time a dozen or so games are played.

It’s worth noting that this is not a criminal issue, but rather a student conduct issue.

Moss is possibly the best returning mid-major player in the country this season, having averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season in leading Buffalo to its first NCAA Tournament in school history. Moss is also notable for playing with a similar heart condition to the one that befell Hank Gathers at Loyola-Marymount in the early 1990s. The Buffalo News also reported that Moss and the two others have been suspended from the team since June 5.

Buffalo has already had a pretty tumultuous offseason following former coach Bobby Hurley’s move to Arizona State. Hurley then took with him forward Shannon Evans, guard Torian Graham, and a commitment in Maurice O’Field. Assistant coach Nate Oats took over the team following Hurley’s departure. Oats was Moss’ high school coach and played a role in getting him to the university following his JUCO season at Indian Hills.

Buffalo doesn’t have anyone on their roster who can quite replace what Moss provides. There might not be a player in the country who is more important to his team’s chance this year than Moss simply due to his skill level versus the rest of the roster. The Bulls will likely be sitting on pins and needles until this ruling comes down, hoping it is for the best.

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