Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vols face punishments for arrests

KNOXVILLE —Tennessee football teammates David Holbert and Antonio Wardlow fought with each other prior to their arrests outside a Knoxville nightspot early Sunday morning.

Arian Foster, also arrested, had tried to break up a fight before a subsequent scuffle led to his arrest at Good Fellas, where more than 70 people were involved in the altercation, according to arrest reports obtained by The Daily Times in Maryville from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Additional football and at least three basketball players were present, according to witnesses who spoke with The Daily Times.

The arrests occurred hours after the Vols lost 28-24 at home to LSU, a setback that allowed Florida to clinch the SEC East title and likely quashed Tennessee’s hopes for an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series.

“It’s silly and stupid. When male ego and alcohol mix, it’s not a good thing,” said Head Coach Phillip Fulmer, who has seen seven players arrested since May. “We had a great team meeting on Sunday night, really fantastic because of the leadership of the team. Everybody concerned did a great job dealing with it. Everybody made their apologies and we went on.”

According to Wardlow’s arrest report, he “squared off with another male (Holbert) and began to throw punches.”

Holbert’s report was virtually identical, with police indicating they witnessed Holbert “attempting to engage in a fight, shoving, yelling and throwing punches.”

Fulmer announced his disciplinary actions for the three prior to his team’s Monday afternoon practice. The No. 13 Vols (7-2, 5-2) began game-week preparations for Saturday’s contest at 11th-ranked Arkansas (8-1, 5-0), which kicks off at 7 p.m. EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

Wardlow, a redshirt freshman defensive back who was cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and underage consumption, was suspended for the Arkansas and Vanderbilt games. Holbert, a junior fullback, will miss the Arkansas game after charges of disorderly conduct and underage consumption. Foster, a sophomore who has started four games this season at tailback, will not play in the first half of Saturday’s contest after his arrest for disorderly conduct and underage consumption.

Fulmer said Good Fellas would now be considered off-limits to his players.

“Several guys did a fantastic job of leaving and other guys helping other guys to make sure they weren't involved,” Fulmer said. “They didn’t leave when they were supposed to. They should have.”

Senior defensive lineman Turk McBride said the Vols would not allow the incident to become a lingering distraction this week during preparations for Arkansas.

“Coach Fulmer has constantly reminded us to put our best foot forward in representing ourselves, our team and our families,” McBride said in a statement. “Our focus is on our education, our social growth as men and our team. Coach will deal with this and we will move on to prepare for Arkansas.”

Added senior left tackle Arron Sears, “The immature behavior of a couple of guys is certainly not representative of our team’s focus and energy to do the right things on and off the field.”

Earlier in the day before the punishments had been announced, junior linebacker Ryan Karl told reporters, “I’m really not supposed to talk about it, but it’s disappointing.”

Foster, Holbert and Wardlow were each released on $500 bond. They will be arraigned Nov. 14.

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