Stoops letting burglary probe play out within judicial field

It was business as usual for the Kentucky football team Saturday, but it wasn’t without some distractions.

The Wildcats were without six players during a scrimmage Saturday at Kroger Field. Reuben “RJ” Adams, Robert “Jutahn” McClain, Andru Phillips, Earnest Sanders IV, Vito Tisdale and Joel Williams  face burglary charges after being charged with first-degree burglary last Thursday following an incident that occurred last March.

The school conducted an internal investigation following the incident and cleared the six players to return to the program in the summer. Tisdale also was charged with wanton endangerment for pointing a handgun at a victim.

Stoops added “anytime there is an issue, there is a concern” but he isn’t worried about his team’s overall morale going into the season opener against Louisiana Monroe in two weeks. At the same time, Stoops is taking the charges “very serious” and is interested to see if there is “new information that we have to look at.”

“We take great pride in the culture of this program — where we’re at and where we’ve been and the positive things,” the Kentucky coach said. “You never want to take a step back. Am I concerned? I’m not. (Will the outside) perception take a hit? I’m not sure … everybody can come to their own conclusion.

“We feel strongly about the culture of this team  … anytime with people and things happen, we address it. We try to do the best we can. Every situation is different and you’re always concerned when things happen to people. They’re all human beings, human beings aren’t perfect,. When these things happen, we address it, to improve and move forward.”

Kentucky senior Josh Pascal said the routine has been normal since the charges were released on Thursday.

“As for the team, we’re getting ready for the season,” he said. “… the culture around here is great. We’re looking forward to the game and we’re getting ready for that.”

The players weren’t with the squad during an initial investigation by the university last spring, which took  11 weeks to complete. They weren’t with the team Saturday and Stoops isn’t sure if they will return pending the outcome of the investigation by officials. Stoops said the players “deserve an opportunity to defend themselves.”

“There is a process that needs to play out and to see in this discovery if there is something that we didn’t know about,” Stoops said. “We don’t have all that information and the attorney’s don’t have all that information yet. When they receive that info from the (potential) discoveries, then we will go from there. We’ll let that process play out.”

Kentucky senior Luke Fortner said incidents can “take a toll on the team” but added that he agrees with Stoops on letting the legal system “work it all out.”

“It’s above us and it’s not something that we can handle as a team,” he said. “It has to be dealt with in the judicial system and we’re confident it will be.”

GAME READY

Stoops was pleased with the team’s second scrimmage of the fall and wanted the them to get as “close to game ready as we possibly could” and added his squad emerged from the workout “relatively healthy.”

“We made some headway, but we obviously have two weeks to put the finishing touches on it,” Stoops said. “We  got a lot of work in. The defense started out well and the offense, it was good to see them respond. They made some good plays and had some good drives. Defensively, we should be a touch ahead with the experience that we have there. … I felt like it was about 50-50 today.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.