The Gophers football spring game scheduled for today has been marred by news late Friday night that three players were taken into custody by university police investigating a complaint of criminal sexual conduct.
University officials identified the players as junior defensive end Alex Daniels, sophomore cornerback Keith Massey and sophomore running back E.J. Jones. First-year head coach Tim Brewster announced in a statement that the players had been suspended until the investigation is complete.
"Obviously, this is disappointing news for any coach to receive," Brewster said. "There is an ongoing investigation, and we will cooperate fully with law enforcement on this matter."
Brewster did not return messages left on his cell phone Friday night. Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said he was disappointed by the news but said he needs to gather more information about the incident.
"Obviously we will cooperate fully with the investigation," Maturi said. "We will take the appropriate action once we know more facts about the case."
The nature of the incident and where it happened were unclear late Friday. An 18-year-old woman came to the university police headquarters early Friday morning to report she had been assaulted, said university spokesman Dan Wolter.
According to a police report, the woman reported the incident happened between late Tuesday night and about 9 a.m. Wednesday. She was taken to a hospital for examination, and she was provided services from victim advocates, the report said. It was unknown whether she is a university student.
After police looked into the report, they arrested the players early Friday evening, Wolter said. They were being questioned Friday night.
"After receiving a complaint early this morning, we began an aggressive investigation," said university police Chief Greg Hestness in a written statement. "Three individuals have been taken into custody and our investigation is ongoing. Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be submitted to the Hennepin County attorney for consideration of charges."
This is the first serious incident in Brewster's short tenure, and it is certain to overshadow today's spring game, which the school has dubbed the "Gopher Nation Celebration." The news broke around the same time Brewster held a reunion for a large number of former Gophers players.
Daniels took over as a starter at defensive end this spring and has been praised by coaches regularly for his improvement and potential. Brewster has gone out of his way to motivate Daniels, a gifted athlete who has bounced between positions his first two seasons.
Massey and Jones are backup players competing for playing time. Massey and Daniels both graduated from Brookhaven High in Columbus, Ohio, in 2005.