Alabama commit VanDarius Cowan has been “indefinitely suspended” pending appeal from participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the game’s national recruiting director Erik Richards told USA TODAY Sports on Monday.
Cowan was scheduled to receive his honorary jersey Tuesday in a ceremony at the school. The ceremony has been canceled, according to a spokesman.
The cancellation comes after Cowan, ranked as the No. 4 outside linebacker according to the 247Sports Composite, was removed from the team at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High, according to the Palm Beach Post. His dismissal from the team is believed to be related to an incident in last Thursday’s game.
According to the Post, coach Rob Freeman took Cowan out of the game after he got two penalties in the first quarter, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
After he was benched, Cowan “ate on the sidelines, was seen talking to fans through the fence behind the bench and paid little attention to the game,” according to the Post. The game was on local television and Cowan was seen dancing and eatingg a hotdog, the Post said.
On Twitter, Cowan said, “I ate a pack of skittles An talked to my mother during the game an I paid attention the whole game even talked An helped my teammates.”
Palm Beach Gardens lost to Wellington 12-10.
The Army Bowl bylaws require a player to complete the last game of high school season in order to be eligible.
“Ninety percent of the time it’s because of an injury,” Richards said. “A player doesn’t finish the season and then wants to play in the Army Game and puts himself in jeopardy of getting hurt again. Ten percent of the time it’s for situations like this.”
“There are two sides to every story and he has an appeal process that we have been told he and his family are planing to take advantage of. The selection committee and management team will look at the situation after that.”
Richards said the process could take up to two weeks.
In a message to USA TODAY High School Sports after the ceremony was canceled, Cowan said, “I talked to my U.S. Army coach and he said I’m still fine to play in the Army game.” He declined further comment and later issued statement on Twitter:
Cowan spent last weekend in Tuscaloosa on his official visit. In several messages on Twitter, he said the situation will not impact his scholarship and wished his teammates luck.
“Talked to Bama Staff My Scholarship still stands 150% now just going to finish strong with my grades An get back lifting weights … Wish my team the best of luck stayed all four years wish I could’ve finished the last right but everything has a meaning … Definitely going to miss going to war with them boys