Montell Marion’s once-permanent suspension from the Iowa wrestling program was lifted Tuesday when the school reinstated the NCAA runner-up.
Marion was banned from all team activities for nearly eight months after his May 4 arrest on drunken driving charges in the early hours after his 22nd birthday. He was offered a transfer release from the Hawkeyes that would’ve allowed him to compete immediately this season at another school, but he opted instead to remain at Iowa in an attempt to regain his place on the team.
The reinstatement allows Marion to begin practicing again with the Hawkeyes. A statement released by the school said a decision on whether the junior will be allowed to compete again for Iowa will be made at a later date.
“I want to thank the University of Iowa, (athletics director) Gary Barta, (associate athletics director) Fred Mims and (coach) Tom Brands for giving me this opportunity to prove myself worthy,” Marion said in a statement. “I understand that there will be some mixed emotions about me rejoining the team, but I am confident that my actions will demonstrate that the University has made the right decision in providing me with this opportunity.”
Marion compiled a 27-6 record last season at 141 pounds. He reached the NCAA finals before dropping a 7-3 decision to Cornell’s Kyle Dake.
Marion was expected to be a cornerstone this season for an Iowa team that lost seven senior starters from the squad that won its third consecutive NCAA title last March. But less than seven weeks after the curtain fell on last season, the two-time state high school champion from Des Moines was dismissed from the program for violations of the school’s student-athlete code of conduct. At the time, the school called it a permanent suspension.
“Montell has made some poor decisions and he continues to pay a significant price,” Barta said in a news release. “With that said, I’m proud of the changes he is making in his life. I support the plan that has been put in place and, more importantly, I’m encouraged with his commitment going forward. I would take great pride in one day watching Montell walk across the graduation stage.”
Mims, who oversees the wrestling program, said last month “it would take something substantial to change his situation.” But Mims also added: “I feel for the young man because he really seems to be a different person.”
“It’s been a tough several months, very draining, but we’re proud of him,” Del Marion said. “That’s where he wanted to be and that’s where we wanted him to be. I’m glad he was able to do the right things.”
Del Marion declined to get into specifics about the steps his son took to put himself in position to rejoin the Hawkeyes, but he said Montell posted a 3.03 grade-point average during the first semester.
“This decision has been made because of the positive steps that Montell has made in his life,” Brands said. “In the last seven months, Montell has demonstrated that he knows there is work to do and that work will continue. I feel confident that Montell’s actions will show that the correct decision has been made.”
Mims said in May that Iowa would support Marion if he wished to transfer. But Del Marion said at the time that his son had no desire to leave the Hawkeyes and that Montell wanted to “correct the situation” and continue his career at Iowa.
“A hundred percent he was staying at the University of Iowa,” Del Marion said. “I had a number of coaches contact me and we told them our first thing was to stay at the University of Iowa and exhaust all of our resources in terms of doing that, and that’s what he did.”