In recent months, university officials have often touted athletics as one of the primary windows into CSU from the outside world.
And, in light of an incident this weekend where three CSU football players allegedly assaulted a group of freshmen near the intersection of Laporte Avenue and Shields Street, the campus â€“â€“ and members of the Fort Collins community â€“â€“ say they feel disappointed and concerned about how these actions reflect upon CSU.
â€œIâ€™m always really disappointed to hear stories like this,â€ said Margarita Ontiveros, a senior liberal arts major who lives near where the incident occurred. â€œ[Those football players] were representing the school.â€
While no charges have been filed, junior defensive end Nordly Capi, junior linebacker Mike Orakpo and junior defensive end Colton Paulhus, who were implicated in the incident, have been suspended indefinitely from the football team.
â€œTo have something like this happen just leaves a bad taste in my mouth,â€ said Jean Geller, a Fort Collins community member who lives just blocks away from where the incident occurred. â€œI was looking forward to the new stadium, being able to walk there, but after this? I donâ€™t know.â€
Jean Geller, and her husband, Jon Geller, said they used to attend every CSU home football game, and were even CSU season ticket holders up until a few years ago. But Jon Geller said the actions of members of the football team have changed his perception of CSUâ€™s program.
â€œCSU should just give up football,â€ Jon Geller, a 1995 graduate of the veterinary college, said. â€œA big-time football program just isnâ€™t a good fit for CSU…. [W]e should focus on academic excellence instead.â€
During a 3:15 p.m. press conference on Monday, football coach Jim McElwain addressed some of these concerns, saying that one of his primary roles is to be responsible for how the football program is perceived and making sure that his players make a good impression.
â€œItâ€™s a part of the job. Not a fun part of the job, but itâ€™s definitely a big part of the job,â€ McElwain said.
â€œ…These actions are not indicative of this program, this university,â€ he added. â€œ… thereâ€™s a lot of really good kids in this program.â€
Athletic Director Jack Graham, who is currently traveling to search for a few basketball coach, echoed these statements in a voicemail to the Collegian.
“I think we’re all horrified about with what took place, number one, and are really concerned about the students that were the victims of that whole process,” Graham said. “At the same time, I think its important that we follow the process appropriately. We’ve taken all the steps that we can take as an athletic department.”
“If the allegations turn out to have substance… there will be an absolute clear response by the football team, and they won’t be part of the football team or the athletic department,” he added. “Behavior of that kind is not acceptable.”
Alli Miller, a freshman social work major who lives in Corbett Hall, said she believes the students accused of the assault should not receive stricter penalties simply because theyâ€™re football players.
â€œI donâ€™t really care that theyâ€™re athletes,â€ she said. â€œI think this should be taken as a mistake made by students.â€
CSU is currently conducting an investigation into the incident, according to Dean of Students Jody Donovan. The investigation is in its preliminary stages because the university has not yet received a police report from Fort Collins Police Services. There is currently no timeline as to when it will be completed.
The students involved will then be the subjects of a hearing in front of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services, and could face expulsion from the university.
â€œCertainly this is a high-profile case,â€ Donovan said. â€œWe donâ€™t see a lot of these.â€
If Capi, Orakpo and Paulhus are found guilty of violating the university code of conduct after these hearings, it would not impact their scholarship rewards for this academic year, since those funds have already been dispersed.
â€œCoach McElwain has made it very clear that this is not acceptable,â€ Donovan said. â€œI think this is a university issue, not just an athletic one… but weâ€™ve got to remember this was a very, very small number of students involved in this type of behavior.â€
Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.