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SMU Quarterback Suspended in Possible Gay Attack

Walter Armstrong

Southern Methodist University's star quarterback was suspended for a week following an off-campus fight that police are investigating as a hate crime. No charges have been filed after three weeks.

Freshman Justin Willis, the Mustangs' fresh-faced record-breaking starter, and a friend reportedly assaulted sophomore Jamil Beard at a party on October 6. The redacted police report states that one of the two suspects said to Beard, "I hear you been talking shit," and then called Beard "a fag" before both hit Beard in the face and neck with their fists.

Willis and Beard apparently knew each other, but the nature of the relationship remains murky. Willis' father, Samuel, told ESPN.com that Beard had been "stalking" his son around the Dallas campus for almost a year. When Beard refused to leave the party, his son, the elder Willis said, "snapped." Former hall mates of Beard told the "SMU Daily Campus" that "Beard had been seen around Willis at various times during the spring 2006 semester… [and] they were not surprised to hear that the two were involved in an altercation."

The six-foot-one, 200-pound Willis, described by the Mustang coach as a precocious playmaker, was booted from the Dallas campus during the university's own speedy investigation. He received unspecified sanctions upon being reinstated seven days later.

In his first game back on the SMU gridiron, Willis threw a convincing four touchdowns. "People make mistakes," he told the Dallas Morning News after the Mustangs' 31-21 win over Marshall. "The crowd reaction—I loved the support they and the coaches and administration [gave me] through the whole thing. That's what I'm really thankful for. Some people might turn their backs on you."

As for Beard, he refused to comment when asked if he would press charges.

So which is it: Gay Bashing? Demented Stalker? Spurned Lover? Freak Fan? Tell us your theory.