Another ugly situation at Nevada
Elijah Foster’s recent arrest on suspicion of domestic battery stirred up a lot of old memories for me, none of them good.
During my first stint covering Nevada basketball which was the last year of the Trent Johnson era and the first four years of Mark Fox’s stint, there were several players who made the police blotter.
Go back to October 28 of 2007. Nevada basketball player Tyrone Hanson, who had already failed a drug test (marijuana) that fall was in Fox’s doghouse. There was a Halloween party somewhere in Reno, and Fox urged his players to get some rest and stay away from the party.
Athletes, whether they’re in college or the pros, can be sitting ducks at a party. There’s always somebody who tries to create a scene with a famous athlete, and unfortunately athletes have trouble walking away or staying away.
Hanson and his girlfriend, along with other members of the team attended the party. According to reports, there was a bumping incident involving Saisoni Taukitoku and Hanson. It ended with Hanson being severely beaten and robbed.
It also ended in the shooting deaths of 21-year-old Charles Kelly, 23-year-old Derek Jensen and 23-year-old Nathan Viljoen.
Hanson’s Nevada career was over. He eventually finished playing at Jackson State.
“He again violated our policy by going out socially that evening while he had been directed not to,” Fox said at the time. “Tyrone and other student-athletes in attendance did not break the law, but Tyrone understands the high standard of behavior that is expected in our program.”
Athletes, right or wrong, are considered role models. They’ve always been held to a higher standard, and they do know that going in.
A year later, the basketball team found itself again in the news for the wrong reasons.
Three members of the Nevada basketball team were arrested for misdemeanor petty larceny after a shoplifting incident at Scheels.
Junior guard Brandon Fields, freshman forward Ahyaro Phillips and freshman guard London “Cotton” Giles were all cited. The trio were suspended by Fox for several games. Charges were later dropped, and the trio continued their seasons.
It was the first of two incidents for Phillips.
In 2009, Phillips was dismissed from the program by then coach David Carter. He was arrested for having possession of a dangerous firearm. The incident involved members of the football and basketball team and happened at the university recreation center.
Former Hug star Armon Johnson, who told police he was holding the gun for somebody, turned it over to the police at Carter’s insistence. Nobody else was charged in the incident.
The incident cost Nevada, because Steven Bjornstad, a 6-10 center from Spokane, got out of his scholarship. The official word was there was some paperwork issues, but Bjornstad’s parents weren’t wild about the gun incident and said their son wasn’t coming to Nevada.
Our freelance columnist Joe Santoro pointed out Jimmy Moore was arrested back in the 1990s for punching two women outside a bar, and he was suspended for just two games.
Moore was also accused of date rape when he was a student at Dixie College, but those charges were never proven.
It makes me wonder how much homework goes into recruiting players? Are coaches going as deep as they can?
Foster will appear in court right before Christmas.
In 2014 Nevada running back Chris Solomon was arrested for domestic battery, and he was kicked off the team. Is this an automatic thing?
“The athletics department handles these situations on a case by case basis,” said Chad Hartley, assistant athletic director and director of communications at Nevada. “No two situations are ever alike, and we consider all relevant factors when addressing these situations.”
Domestic battery? If you’re a boy, aren’t you taught at an early age that you don’t hit girls?
We’re seeing this far to often, especially by professional athletes. Fifteen NFL players have been arrested on battery in the last two years. We all have seen the infamous Ray Rice video where he slugged his then girlfriend and now wife in a New Jersey elevator. There have been plenty of instances in the NBA and Major League Baseball, too.
All I can say is walk away. Obviously I wasn’t in the room, but when an argument escalates it’s better if one or both parties walk away. Cooler heads always prevail.
Foster may or may not have thrown his college career away because of his temper. Only time will tell.
In my mind, however, there’s no place for an athlete at any level for hitting/beating a woman.