Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is facing the first major discipline moment of his early tenure with the Wildcats, with the news that four football players were arrested early Friday morning.
The student-run Arizona Daily Wildcat reported Wednesday that three of the players were arrested on criminal trespassing in the first degree and assault — sophomore defensive back Jourdon Grandon, sophomore starting right tackle Fabbians Ebbele and sophomore offensive lineman Eric Bender. Another player — sophomore safety Jared Tevis — was arrested on trespassing charges.
Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne released a statement Wednesday morning: “We are taking this matter seriously. We are cooperating fully with the Tucson Police Department, and disciplinary action will be handled accordingly. Due to federal student-privacy laws we will have no further comment.”
The Daily Wildcat, citing reports from the Tucson Police Department, wrote that the arrests occurred after a brawl at a party at the home of five UA students:
The first student who officers spoke to said they were “having a party with some of their friends,” and Tevis was the only football player who had been invited. Tevis entered the home with four other members of the team.
According to police records, residents asked Tevis and the other players to leave because they were not invited. One of the men responded by shoving one of the women backwards. The man was later identified as former safety Joshua Robbins. After being shoved, the resident slapped Robbins, who then proceeded to punch her in the face — starting a brawl between the football players and members of the party.
Robbins, the son of former UA standout Randy Robbins, recently was removed from the roster because of back problems that kept him out all of last season.
The players left but returned with other players, leading to alleged assaults against male and female members of the party.
Arizona began spring practice on Monday and is scheduled to hold another practice Wednesday afternoon on campus. Rodriguez is scheduled to speak before practice but, per Byrne’s statement, isn’t likely to address the matter, which is still under investigation.
None of the current players — who attended Monday’s practice — will be made available to the media.
Grandon started four games last season. Bender — whose last name is listed as Bender-Ramsay by UA — projects as a backup. Tevis was mostly a special teams player last season with a chance for a larger role this season.
With these arrests occurring about three and a half months after his hiring, Rodriguez’s handling of the incident will be closely watched as one that sets the tone for how he will run the program.