Thursday, September 07, 2006

Three Colorado State Players Arrested

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Colorado State football coach Sonny Lubick says the three Rams players facing felony fraud charges made "silly mistakes" that have given his program a black eye.
"It doesn't make us look good," the 69-year-old coach said after a spirited practice Wednesday night in preparation for Saturday's showdown against archrival Colorado.
"We have for 13 or 14 years been pretty darn solid here, as solid and as good as any program in America," Lubick said. "I'd put us up in America with anybody, including Stanford and Duke."
Prosecutors said they have arrest warrants for seven people, including three current and two former members of the football team, as part of a fraud and forgery investigation dating to last year.
"There has been an ongoing criminal investigation since November into bank fraud, and it went to a grand jury in February," said Linda Jensen, a spokeswoman for Larimer County prosecutors. "These are not indictments from a grand jury. These are charges that we have filed."
The felony charges range from forgery to theft to identity theft. Jensen said she could not detail the allegations because the warrants have been sealed by a judge as the investigation continues.
Lubick suspended the three players who were accused of the crimes: Robert Herbert, a senior cornerback from Alta Loma, Calif., who lost his starting job to sophomore Joey Rucks this season; and redshirt freshmen Micah Crews, a defensive back from Englewood and Brian Abata, a defensive lineman from Denver.
"Right now they're finished," Lubick said. "Most of this might be out of my hands anyway."
Athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said that if the players were eventually exonerated, they could be allowed back on the team providing they're not expelled from school.
Kowalczyk, who's been on the job for four months, said he felt bad for Lubick.
"I know that as a head coach he feels somewhat responsible because he's recruited them and talked about trying to get them a good experience here and make them better young men," Kowalczyk said. "And that's what hurts the most, I think. I feel really bad for Sonny.
"This is a guy who's built up a reputation for 13 years of running a clean program, doing the right thing and really being above it all. And then we've got a few young men who have made a mistake and it hurts his reputation, it hurts the institution. I think that's the unfortunate part."
Herbert, who started 23 times in his collegiate career, did not start Saturday in CSU's win over Weber State.
The charges came as Colorado State prepares for Saturday's showdown with rival Colorado in Denver. The Colorado program has been rocked by off-field allegations over the past few years, ranging from allegations of sexual assault by football players to claims by authorities that alcohol is used to entice recruits to the Boulder campus.
So, they've endured their share of off-the-field troubles and they weren't gloating over the turn of events.
"I'm not happy to hear about that at all," Colorado center Mark Fenton said. "Hopefully it doesn't disrupt their team and they can move beyond that."
Said Buffaloes wide receiver Dusty Sprague: "We're all human; it can happen anywhere."
Lubick said the accused players were all good kids who made a mistake and that the two freshmen were simply naive: "A couple of guys made a couple of bad decisions here."
Lubick said he knew about the investigation for a year and cooperated with authorities who wanted help in identifying a black player who was seen on videotape illegally using an ATM card. He said he interviewed all his black players and nobody came forward to say they were involved in the alleged criminal activity.
All of the current and former Rams players who were allegedly involved are black.
When Lubick didn't hear anything for months, he said he figured there was nothing to the matter "and today was a shock." He said he was particularly surprised to learn Herbert was allegedly involved and he met with all three of the accused players in his office Wednesday morning and suggested they turn themselves in.
He also gathered his team before practice in the afternoon to talk about the arrests.
"They were all very saddened because they like these guys and if we had kept them on the football team I think they would be OK with that. But I said that's out of my hands," Lubick said. "And I just said we make silly mistakes and if you make mistakes you can come to one of your coaches ... That's hard for young people to do, I guess. They wouldn't have done it if they thought they were going to get caught."

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