Jeff Kolpack, Published September 04 2012
Bohl: Waiting for legal process to play out before deciding on disciplineFARGO – Seven North Dakota State football players who face voter fraud charges will be on the flight Saturday to Fort Collins for a game against Colorado State.
Head coach Craig Bohl said Tuesday he’s going to wait for the legal process to play out before deciding on any discipline.
It was a stance backed up by his athletic director, Gene Taylor, who said the severity of the charges were the reason no immediate action was taken.
“The knowledge that we have in what goes on in an investigation in terms of seriousness – felony, violence, theft, DUI, sexual in nature – is very different than putting names on a petition,” Taylor said. “And that’s how we determined right now why we’re going to let somebody go through court and somebody who doesn’t.”
Four starters – cornerbacks Brendin Pierre and Marcus Williams, running back Sam Ojuri and offensive guard Josh Colville – were among eight current players and one former player who face misdemeanor voter fraud charges, according to state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. Also affected were second string players cornerback Aireal Boyd, safety Bryan Shepherd and linebacker Antonio Rodgers. Receiver Demetrius Gray is redshirting and Josh Gatlin is a former Bison cornerback.
In addition, two former Bison players, D.J. McNorton and Don Carter, and one current player, tight end Lucas Albers, are on a list of petition circulators who, state officials say, submitted signatures to the state and later had signatures rejected.
As of Tuesday, the three were not included on the list of those state officials suspected of fraud.
Bohl said he was contacted a couple of weeks ago about the investigation. He said he helped coordinate the players being available to investigators and he said the players complied with the investigation. Bohl was notified Tuesday morning of the possible charges.
NDSU did not allow any of the football players to comment.
It’s the second run-in with authorities for Ojuri in the past three months. He was charged with driving with a suspended license twice this summer, and Bohl said that situation is still in the process of being resolved.
Ojuri requested a jury trial.
NDSU, 1-0 and ranked second in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision media poll, plays at CSU at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday. It’s considered a big game in terms of the Rams being a Football Bowl Subdivision team from the Mountain West Conference.
Bohl didn’t think having players facing possible charges will affect his team’s preparation for the Rams, who beat Colorado 22-17 last Saturday.
“I can tell you our football team is very focused and I have not noticed anything being a distraction at all,” Bohl said.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/
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