The longer the process took, and the more the rumors circulated, the more you got the impression this wasn't going to end well for JayVaughn Pinkston or the Villanova basketball program.

Yesterday, the worst-case scenario officially turned into reality.

The university suspended the freshman power forward from New York for the second semester, putting his collegiate career on hold for a season before it ever got underway.

In early November, Pinkston was charged by Upper Merion Township police with simple assault (a misdemeanor) and harassment (summary offense) for his involvement in an early morning, off-campus altercation in which two men had to be treated at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

While the university investigated to determine whether Code of Student Conduct violations had occurred, Pinkston continued to practice with the team and attend classes.

But he wasn't allowed to be in uniform or sit on the bench for any games.

He will be allowed to finish this semester, which ends later this month. And in June he can regain his status "as a student in good standing," which is what he intends to do, according to a statement released by the school. He still would have 4 years of eligibility remaining. Some were speculating that he might decide to transfer instead.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 15.

His lawyer, James Famiglio, said Pinkston "plans to vigorously defend himself against the charges. The public needs to hear the other side of the full story of what happened."

"I am sorry," Pinkston said. "This situation is my responsibility and I have learned from it. I am going to work extremely hard so that I can return to the Villanova family."

The loss leaves the 12th-ranked Wildcats (5-1), who are at Penn tomorrow night, with nine scholarship players. Three are seniors. But freshman guard James Bell has just returned from a long layoff while he dealt with stress fractures in both legs.

"I am in support of the university's decision," said coach Jay Wright. "JayVaughn understands that there are consequences to his actions, and I believe he will continue to handle this in a mature manner. We look forward to his return."

Last season, senior Reggie Redding was prohibited from playing in games for the first semester for possession of a small amount of marijuana.