August 09, 2017

(STATS) - A petition that seeks the removal of a Youngstown State football player who was convicted of rape as a juvenile has shattered its goal for signatures.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition on had more than 10,000 signatures that call for sophomore defensive end Ma'lik Richmond's removal from the Missouri Valley Football Conference squad, which was the FCS national runner-up last season. The petition is directed toward Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini and school president Jim Tressel.

The 2012 case involving Richmond, who was 16 at the time, drew national attention through its trial a year later. He was one of two young men convicted by a Steubenville, Ohio, juvenile court of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Weirton, West Va., girl who had passed out after consuming alcohol.

Richmond apologized to both his victim's family and his own following the guilty verdict. He served nine months in an Ohio juvenile detention facility before returning to Steubenville High School and its football team.

He attended California University of Pennsylvania and Potomac State College in West Virginia before enrolling at Youngstown State last August. He joined the Penguins' football program in January as a walk-on after Pelini reviewed his case.

Last week, Pelini told The Vindicator newspaper in Youngstown, "The kid is humble and he wants to put (his past) behind him."

The petition claims Richmond has the right to be a Youngstown State student but doesn't deserve to represent the university's football team, which it says is a privilege.

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