East Lansing — MSU football coach Mark Dantonio suspended eight players that the university identified Tuesday as potential suspects in assaults at a dormitory, which allegedly occurred within 90 minutes of the annual football banquet Sunday, Nov. 22.
The university now has identified a total of 10 players who were present at the incident, said Terry Denbow, vice president of university affairs. They are seeking the identification of five other individuals who also were on hand.
A continuing investigation by the MSU police department will determine if they played any role in any alleged assaults, let alone if any will be charged with crimes.
“It’s important to note that these guys weren’t necessarily involved directly in anything that happened,” MSU athletics director Mark Hollis said. “Some maybe, some maybe not. You’ve got to let the system play out and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Hollis agreed the incident involving members of the football team, in which as many as 20 men allegedly entered Rather Hall and an undetermined number allegedly assaulted students, is a singularly serious affair, involving a major athletics program.
“I have not dealt with a situation at this kind of level,” he said courtside in Chapel Hill, N.C., before the MSU-UNC basketball game Tuesday night. “But it’s something that’s easy to go through the process in your decision making when you look at your mission and your core values.”
“I think we’re moving swiftly, but also cautiously, in the decisions we are making.”
Black eye for Dantonio
Two of the players named Tuesday by the university, Glenn Winston, of Detroit, a junior running back, and Roderick Jenrette, a fourth-year free safety from Tampa, Fla., were dismissed permanently by Dantonio on Nov. 24 for violations of team rules. Attempts to reach both players over the past week have been unsuccessful.
An additional eight players were suspended for violating team rules Tuesday, because of their suspected involvement in the Rather Hall incidents, Denbow said. They are:
• B.J. Cunningham, 20, a sophomore wide receiver from Westerville, Ohio.
• Mark Dell, 20, a junior wide receiver from Farmington Hills, who attended Farmington Hills Harrison High School.
• Ashton Leggett, 20, a sophomore running back from Muskegon.
• Ishmyl Johnson, 22, a redshirt sophomore nose tackle from Rahway, N.J.
• Chris L. Rucker, 21, a junior cornerback from Warren, Ohio.
• Fred Smith, 19, a sophomore wide receiver from Detroit, who attended Southwestern High School.
• Brynden Trawick, 20, a redshirt freshman linebacker, of Marietta, Ga.
• Jamiihr Williams, 20, a redshirt freshman defensive end from Lima, Ohio.
Dantonio continued to be unavailable for comment, though at some point he likely will have to publicly explain some of his recent personnel decisions.
The third-year coach allowed Winston, 20, a 2007 graduate of Denby High School, to return to the team late last summer after Winston served four months in jail for an October 2008 assault in which an MSU hockey player, A.J. Sturgis, was seriously injured. A bystander also was hurt.
Dantonio also ordered Jenrette, 21, off the team for the entire 2008 season to attend to unspecified personal problems, before letting him return for 2009.
Hollis said he has complete confidence in Dantonio, despite the possibility that both of his decisions on the two players have gone awry.
“I don’t know how Mark’s feeling on that, you’d have to ask Mark,” Hollis said. “I think he’s a great leader, I think he makes great decisions. I think he believes in Michigan State, he believes in the program, he believes in the team. And that’s how he makes his decisions.”