USD football player is dismissed, two others are suspended by David Lias Three players of The University of South Dakota football squad won't be setting foot on the gridiron for the rest of the season after a night of destruction in Vermillion.
The three players also may end up in court facing misdemeanor charges as Vermillion police investigate incidents allegedly caused by the three athletes.
Starting linebacker Ryan Winters, a sophomore from Iowa Falls, IA, has been dismissed by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, according to a USD press release. Sophomores Shawn Kenworthy, a redshirt freshman from Ft. Pierre, and Andrew Chambers, a redshirt freshman from Treynor, IA, have been suspended from the competition for the rest of the season.
All three individuals are subject to the USD Student Judicial Process and face legal charges by the Clay County State's Attorney's office.
Winters faces charges of misdemeanor assault, joy riding and property destruction. Kenworthy and Chambers face misdemeanor charges of joy riding and property destruction.
Chambers and Kenworthy must attend classes and undergo alcohol counseling. They also must attend all football practices, the university said, but in a limited role.
"Our student-athletes must realize that their actions have consequences," Athletic Director Kelly Higgins said. "Severe violations of policies, such as occurred here, must be judged accordingly. We will provide as much support as our student-athletes need, but they must be held accountable for their actions."
Winters and Kenworthy, who are roommates, declined to comment when reached by telephone Monday. Chambers could not immediately be reached.
According to the Vermillion Police Department, several people left a house party in Vermillion at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Some of them smashed the windshield of a car and flipped another car, authorities said.
They also went to the USD campus, where a 19-year-old student from Garretson was beaten, police said. The student is recovering at home. Police said he may have been targeted
because he saw what had happened.
Clay County State's Attorney Tami Bern said Monday that the Vermillion Police Department was still working on its investigation report.
"We have touched base a couple of times on it, and I think arguably there could be felony charges, but I think we're leaning toward misdemeanors at this point," she said. "My general policy is that I would rather under-charge something rather than over-charge something."
Charges that the three football players likely will face are tampering with a motor vehicle for joyriding in a car, intentional damage to property for flipping a car on its side, a charge of simple assault, and perhaps charges of unlawful entry.
All offenses are Class 1 misdemeanors, Bern said.
The suspects allegedly took a car from a trailer park near the DakotaDome early Oct. 26, and drove the car approximately four blocks to the Dome's parking lot and left it there.
"So clearly I don't think that rises to the level of grand theft," Bern said.
Besides seeing an end to their football playing time for the rest of the season, the three athletes could be suspended from school as well, under the code of conduct that governs all public universities in the state.