MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus returned to practice Wednesday, though he is not eligible to play in games yet at least in part because he lacks credits after he was expelled this spring amid sexual assault allegations.
Coach Paul Chryst told reporters at practice that Cephus didn’t get a “ton of reps” but it was “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.”
The Wisconsin athletic department said earlier this week that Cephus won’t play in games until unspecified “eligibility issues” are resolved.
Chryst said the issues revolve around a lack of class credits. He declined to further elaborate, saying “there’s people working on it,” but he didn’t know when the issues would be solved and Cephus would be game-eligible. The 19th-ranked Badgers open the season Aug. 30 at South Florida.
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.
The university expelled him this year before the spring semester ended for violating its nonacademic misconduct code.
A jury acquitted him Aug. 2 after deliberating for less than an hour. Chancellor Rebecca Blank on Monday decided to allow him to return to school and rejoin the team. Blank did uphold a sexual harassment conduct violation against him, but Cephus’ attorney has said he faces no sanctions.
Cephus, a 6-foot-1 junior from Georgia, was a standout receiver for the run-first Badgers before he was expelled.
He played a combined 23 games in 2016 and 2017. He accumulated 501 yards receiving in the 2017 season and led the team with six touchdown catches despite breaking his right leg during a game against Indiana in November of that year and missing the final five games of the season.
Wisconsin media officials didn’t make Cephus available for comment Wednesday. Star running back Jonathan Taylor said it was exciting just to see his friend back on the field.
“Just good to see his face, smiling, running around, full of energy,” Taylor said. “Just like the old days.”