Football: UL suspends four for Ole Miss game due to prior arrest
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Nov. 11, 2017
OXFORD, Miss. — UL lost 50-22 to Ole Miss on Saturday while playing without four starters suspended for the non-conference game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium here.
Out for the Ragin’ Cajuns were running back Trey Ragas, offensive guard Robert Hunt, Buck defensive end Joe Dillon and Slash outside linebacker Damar’ren Mitchell.
Ragas was the Sun Belt Conference's fourth-leading rusher before Saturday,a and Dillon was a USA Today Freshman All-American last season.
Afterward, UL coach Mark Hudspeth said only that the suspensions were due to "violation of team policy."
But they actually are related to the four being arrested during the offseason last spring, it was learned before the game.
Thirteen UL players, including those four, initially were arrested for conspiracy to commit felony theft.
It also was learned that the other nine served a one-game suspension at various points earlier in the season, but their suspensions were not made public at the time — and the Cajuns did nothing to make clear the real reason they were out.In some cases, it was thought the absent players were out because of injuries and that belief was not corrected by anyone from UL.
The 13 later had the charge against them reduced to criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, with a chance to have the charge eventually dismissed upon completion of a pre-trial diversion program that includes community service, drug testing and other program requirements.
“Luckily we’ll have them back for the rest of the season," Hudspeth said of the four. "It definitely would have been a big help to have those guys here, especially considering we lost our starting tight end on Thursday night."
UL freshman tight end Chase Rogers did not play due to a broken foot sustained in practice Thursday.
The 13 originally charged with a felony, since reduced: Dillon, Hunt, Ragas, Mitchell, D’Aquin Withrow, Matthew Barnes, Denarius Howard, Jordan Wright, Jarvis Jeffries, LaDarrius Kidd, Terik Miller, Levarious Varnado and Simeon Thomas.
They were arrested April 25, following an investigation that produced video evidence of an occurrence at Huger Hall on campus.
The alleged victim in the case is former teammate Artez Williams, who was arrested for felony rape on the same day items allegedly were taken from his room.
Williams recently had a pre-trial hearing in which he was scheduled for another pre-trial for a date in 2018.
With the four Cajuns suspended Saturday, UL started Darius Hoggins at running back, Staten Wade at offensive guard, Jeffries at defensive end and Varnado at the Slash.
“You’re talking about being down five starters against an SEC football teamI," Hudspeth said. "It’s tough enough when you’ve got them all."
Asked why it was announced when the other nine among the 13 were suspended for a game, Hudspeth said, "I really wasn’t gonna announce these four."
Asked why he chose the Ole Miss game to suspend the four key players, Hudspeth said, “It just got to this game, and I felt like this was the best game to do it."
UL (4-5) has games remaining against New Mexico State, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State and needs two more wins to become bowl-eligible.
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