Cal Poly sacks football player, may have been illegal procedure

May 2, 2015
Marvin Abou with his niece and nephew

Marvin Abou with his niece and nephew

EDITOR’S NOTE: A letter from Marvin Abou’s landlord and the university’s response are at the end of this story.


The suspension of a 22-year-old Cal Poly student athlete within hours of his arrest on suspicion of felony DUI has raised questions about the fairness of the university’s actions and the speed in which the administration acted. Cal Poly barred Marvin Abou, a scholarship student and offensive lineman with the football team, from entering campus grounds before a police report was available or charges were brought in court.

Abou was arrested following an accident on April 19. Abou was driving a 2004 Jeep Wrangler with two passengers on Loomis Street shortly after 1 a.m. He attempted to make a turn and the Jeep flipped over onto its side before hitting a parked car. When police tested his blood alcohol, it was over the legal limit.

Cal Poly administrators suspended Abou within hours of his arrest declaring that he posed a “substantial threat to the safety and well-being of his fellow students.”

Abou and his front seat passenger received minor cuts to their foreheads. A SLO Police Department press release stated incorrectly that two of Abou’s passengers were injured.

Teammates, who were with Abou in the Jeep, question the university’s reaction to the accident and arrest. Offensive lineman Nick Enriques cut his head during the accident. Nevertheless, he believes the school is treating Abou more harshly than other students, he said.

Derek Sabo, an offensive lineman was in the back seat when the accident occurred. Sabo said he faces greater threats to his well being playing football for Cal Poly then he does from his teammate.

“I have had four concussions playing for Cal Poly,” Sabo said. “We sacrifice our bodies and this is what they do to us. He has been taken off the team, the thing he loves, do they have to take his education away also. We are like cattle and they do not care if we are successful in life.”

Marvin Abou on the far right with several friends from the Cal Poly football team

Marvin Abou on the far right with several friends from the Cal Poly football team

Sabo pointed to the difference in treatment with Cal Poly choosing to suspend Abou when students generally receive a warning letter after receiving their first DUI.

Students who have been charged with other serious crimes have been permitted to remain on campus and in classes by the Cal Poly administration.

Former fraternity president Gear McMillan recently pled no contest to felony drug sales. He was permitted to stay in school. Former running back Kristaan Ivory is facing multiple felony charges in connection with what police say was his participation in an armed robbery and he is currently attending classes. Several other students accused of sexually assaulting classmates or who have been arrested in connection with felony DUIs have also been permitted to continue attending classes while they go through the legal system.

The CSU system has a system, known as Executive Order 1098, in place to protect the rights of students. Before seeking a suspension of a student the school is required to fully investigate the charges. But the police report was not available when Abou was barred by Cal Poly.

Abou was given three days to select one of three options regarding temporary, permanent suspension from Cal Poly or a hearing. If he chose the hearing, Abou would not be able to attend classes during the process, the dean’s office informed Abou.

Cal Poly and the rest of the CSU universities are required to inform students in writing about a conference to discuss proposed penalties. The notice of conference is required to have seven items attached  including “a factual description of the student’s alleged conduct,” the section of the student conduct code the student violated and a copy of Executive Order 1098, none of which were included in Abou’s notice of conference.

But, Jay Thompson, a member of Cal Poly’s public relations team, said Cal Poly had followed proper procedures when administrators suspended Abou.

“Cal Poly’s process meets the highest standards of fundamental fairness and due process required by law,” Thompson said. “The process conforms with Executive Order 1098, which governs all student disciplinary matters throughout the CSU system.”

When he was a 3-year-old, Abou and his parents left Iraq, Abou said. The family is Christian and they feared for their safety.  After fleeing Iraq, the family moved to Jordan, then Greece and when Abou was 6,  the family moved to the United States. Abou and his parents are now American citizens.

Several hours after police arrested Abou, university officials barred him from entering the campus and gave him three days to elect to either be suspended for a year, withdraw from school or take it to a hearing, though he would not be able to attend classes during the process.

Abou’s landlords, Mike and Michelle McMurtrey, sent a letter to Duane Rohrbacher , associate dean of the office of student rights and responsibilities, asking him to reconsider the decision it had made about Abou. In the letter the couple wrote about Abou’s character and asked Rohrbacher to respond back to them.

“Marvin has been an exceptional tenant for the past two years,” the McMurterys wrote in their letter.  “He has become the house “handyman” of sorts. Marvin is a mature, responsible, respectful young man. He is a loyal friend and a supportive team-mate.”

Rohrbacker responded in an email telling the McMurtreys he did not take the time to read their letter, hoped they enjoyed San Luis Obispo and that he would not have time to meet with them to discuss Abou’s future.


Duane Rohrbacker’s email



 Mike and Michelle McMurtrey letter

RE: Marin Abou by CalCoastNews

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Unbelievable how this “prestigious University” goes about handling matters such as this one. Everyone makes mistakes at sometime during there 18-23 year old lives, some worse than others, but nonetheless, Poly has abused there power in determining Abou’s mistake is bad enough to justify his education being taken away from him. What if Abou would have been severly injured (yes even though it was at his own accord)…. this has led me to ask

Would Cal Poly have gladly notified Marvin’s parents while in the hospital that their son has loss his status as a student at Cal Poly? Just makes me curious as to what their “basis” is for determining his expulsion, or is it just Mr. Rohrbacher and the Cal Poly administration abusing their power? My answer is yes, and something needs to be done to those individuals thinking they are sitting on a throne and can make any decision, regardless if it is ethical or not

Mike and Michelle McMurtrey should forward their letter directly to Armstrong’s attention:

Innocent until proven guilty that is what the Arroyo Grande chamber of commerce says.

Maybe Cal Poly expects more from their students, it is clear the A.G. chamber doesn’t have very high standards, and that perhaps Cal Poly just happens to have higher ones.

I have yet to see where Marvin Abou admits he was driving drunk and apologizes for his actions, it appears he is just claiming everyone else is wrong and out to get him, sounds very familiar.

A few thoughts after reading this article:

– If Marvin Abou,by his actions, posed a “substantial threat to the safety and well-being of his fellow students,” then are the staff & faculty, coaches, etc held to the same standard?

– If an administrator were arrested for drunk driving, would he lose his job? What about the president of club soccer? would they lose their position and be expelled?

– I find it ironic and a bit sad that the Marvin Abou fled religious persecution in Iraq, was a refugee in a number of countries and then became an American citizen to find due process and the American Dream thwarted by….Cal Poly.

Bottom line Abou did not receive due process under executive order 1098 (and the person who made this decision has a PhD and law degree.) It sounds like a case of prejudice. I am looking forward to hearing the assistant dean of student affairs reasons for his decision.

For a student going to college the expenses Abou will incur from the felony DUI will be very costly.

Cal Poly went the extra step and ground him into the ground.

So Marvin Abou was driving drunk, correct?

… and flipped his Jeep containing two passengers over on its side striking a parked car

and injuring himself and one of the passengers after 1:00 a.m., correct?

And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this guy, why?

Judge Michael Duffy got hhis ass in the ringer over dui and he still sits on the bench. Got to be fair to all

And Alex Forster while on drugs crashes and kills a person and never spent a day in jail, your point is? If one person gets away with something then everyone should??

Not only that, but what of the students arrested out of the area? Are only those arrested locally subjected to this standard?

wondered how long before someone played the racism card, knew it would happen sooner or later.

“Duane Rohrbacker, Jr., JD, PhD” would receive a formal reprimand for acting like a jerk if he sent out an arrogant and obnoxious email like that under Cal Poly’s name if he were in my chain of supervision..