Back in August, three men allegedly connected to an attack on Wisconsin running back Montee Ball were arrested and charged with substantial battery. On Wednesday, two of those men — 21-year-old Wendell J. Venerable and 22-year-old Robert A. Wilks — pleaded guilty to those charges.
Both offenders, who are Wisconsin students, were placed on a first-offender program while a third assailant, Deonte Wilson, has a plea hearing scheduled for Jan. 18.
Ball, a senior Doak Walker Award winner, suffered a concussion and a bruised jaw in the assault and missed the first week of preseason camp. A witness to the attack reported to police that he heard something along the lines of “one down, nine to go” by one of the assailants, possibly in reference to other UW football players.
The original police report stated Ball was attacked by five individuals. Ball has stated multiple times he did not know the identities of the assailants or why he was attacked. Police then looked into a possible precipitating event — a late July fight at a party involving two members of the Wisconsin football team — to see if there was a connection or motive.
Ball finished the year with 1,730 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The first month of the football season at Rutgers has had its share of off-field stories worth keeping an eye on, so the news on Tuesday that the university has hired Bond, Schoeneck & King, a law firm with a history of working on NCAA violation cases, is certainly a bit of an eye-opener. The NCAA is not, at this time, investigating Rutgers. Instead, this is a move to investigate a pair of concerns related to the football program so that they may be properly reported to the NCAA if and when needed.
“Rutgers has retained outside counsel with expertise in NCAA infractions to help identify any potential rules violations,” Rutgers senior vice president for external affairs Peter McDonough said in a report published by NJ.com. “This is an ongoing and rigorous process that helps us to identify any shortcomings, to self-report them as required by NCAA rules and to remedy them as best practices demand.”
According to the report from NJ.com, Rutgers is focusing on one allegation of an arrested player failing multiple drug tests while on the team and accusations related to the program’s ambassador program. The name of the former player was not identified in the report. The ambassador program has come into scrutiny following the evolving case related to wide receiver Leonte Carroo.
The hired firm tends to serve as a liaison with the NCAA, but Rutgers will be given a final copy of the firm’s investigation for review. If Rutgers determines any NCAA violations were commited as determined by the report, that information will be passed on to the NCAA. The information revealed or uncovered in the firm’s investigation will determine if the NCAA will have to do some of its own digging, or merely adopt the firm’s report at face value and decide on any appropriate punishment from there.
Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo could have a charge of simple assault dropped by a New Jersey court today. The woman he is accused of slamming to the concrete has agreed to drop the restraining order request and has asked the assault charge against the Rutgers receiver be dropped as well. NJ.com reports today the woman and Carroo each appeared in a family court on Tuesday, and the woman told the judge she is not scared of Carroo.
So, what does this mean for football? Simply put, it means Carroo may be eligible to play again as soon as this weekend. That would be good timing, as Rutgers is set to host Michigan State this Saturday night.
Carroo has been sitting out while serving an indefinite suspension while this legal process plays out. Carroo has missed each of the last two games for Rutgers, against Penn State and Kansas. Rutgers was off this past weekend. If this legal process does play out as it is expected at this point, Carroo could be reinstated quickly and promptly, making him eligible to return right away. Carroo is one fo the best players on the roster, so having him back and eligible to play is very good news for the Scarlet Knights offense.