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Tomey says accused athletes will play


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Summer Wildcat

"We have duly reamed those guys out, and they all know how we feel about it." Dick Tomey UA head football coach

By Chris Jackson and Audrey DeAnda
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
August 25, 1999

UA head football coach Dick Tomey yesterday said the 14 football players accused of stealing money from a CatCard employee will not be suspended and can play in Saturday's season opener against Penn State.

After delaying the release of the football players' names on the basis that the investigation could be compromised, University of Arizona police yesterday identified the mainly freshman players under investigation.

Included in the group are four athletes listed as second-string players on the Wildcats' roster. All are new to the University of Arizona program.

Freshman wide receiver Bobby Wade, junior defensive end Austin Uku, sophomore strong safety Zaharius Johnson and sophomore cornerback Anthony Banks are among the investigative leads on the list.

But police are stressing that the players have not been charged with any crime.

"These men are investigative leads," said Sgt. Michael Smith, a UAPD spokesman. "They haven't been charged with anything."

The investigation stems from an incident Thursday when a CatCard employee told his supervisor that players surrounded him while he was giving a demonstration on how to use a cash-to-card machine. According to university police reports, the employee told CatCard Director Liz Taylor that the players took about $20 in cash from his hand.

Taylor then filed a report with UAPD.

Because no charges have been filed, Tomey said at a press conference yesterday that all of the players will be eligible to play in Saturday's game.

"I know what happened," he said. "It's a dumb thing - dumb."

Tomey declined further comment about the investigation.

"I'm not at liberty to talk about it," he said. "It was just one of those kind of things you think 'Oh, my God.' We have duly reamed those guys out, and they all know how we feel about it. We're just waiting for the investigation to be completed."

Smith said that the investigation is ongoing, and UAPD Detective Joseph Rocco conducted interviews yesterday, but no new evidence has been found.

"We're in the process of trying to interview various people and get to the bottom of it," Smith said.

None of the players would comment on the situation after yesterday's team practice.

Also included on the list of investigative leads are nine freshmen: fullback Lance Briggs, safety Clay Hardt, defensive back Michael Jolivette, wide receiver Gary Love, tight end Justin Levasseur, defensive lineman Brandon Phillips, wide receiver Lance Relford, defensive back Russell Dokken and linebacker Matt Molina. Junior wide receiver Brandon Marshall, a junior college transfer, is also listed.

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