Students question basketball players’ punishment

Marissa Himbele and Jenn Lepore

Penalties from the state for men’s basketball players Ike Azotam and James Johnson likely won’t be severe. While the university continues its investigation of the Sept. 18 altercation, students are speaking out about their desire for transparency in how Quinnipiac’s administration is dealing with the basketball players’ punishment.

Scott Ostrander, a sophomore athletic training major, is one of the many students on campus who finds no justice in Quinnipiac’s secrecy.

“They basically jumped the kid, got arrested, but the school doesn’t do a goddamn thing about it,” Ostrander said.

The university cannot comment on ongoing investigations per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which states that a student must give consent to the university prior to the disclosure of educational records.

Azotam and Johnson were arrested following a fight with students 3 a.m. Sept. 18. Both players were charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace. Hamden police made no other arrests.

Attorney and Quinnipiac professor Eroll Skyers predicts the harshest punishment the basketball players could face is probation and paying the price of court and an attorney.

“As long as they have never had any prior criminal history, I don’t expect they will spend a day in jail,” Skyers said.

The players’ defense attorney Thomas Lynch told the Chronicle that Azotam and Johnson had clean records prior to said altercation.

Connecticut law states that breach of peach in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor. A breach of peace includes activities that engage fighting, violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior, or assaulting another in a public place.

The law defines a public place as any area that is used or held for use by the public, whether owned or operated by public or private interests.

While neither Johnson nor Azotam will face jail time, many students expect the university to take appropriate disciplinary action on the two.

“I think they should approach the situation as if it was any other student,” senior Brian Reilly said. “The administration should be more transparent about its decisions especially since they are supposed to be respondent and accountable to us students.”

Junior Mike Messina said they should face a harsh punishment.

“I think they should be expelled or miss half the season,” Messina said.

However, some students are worried that the punishment will not be strong enough. After Azotam and Johnson posted bail of $5,000 each, the university allowed them to continue attending classes.

“They’re stupid and should be suspended or kicked off,” junior Brad Degnan said. “But they’ll probably get off anyway.”

Rachel Lee, a sophomore health sciences major, said the university will let the players off easily.

“How are they not going to get in trouble at all? But God forbid a regular student gets caught with a beer can in their hand, they lose every right they have,” Lee said.

In November 2006, two freshman basketball players, Trevon Charles and James Feldeine, were charged with second-degree unlawful restraint and breach of peace after urinating on a female student’s leg.

As punishment from the school, Charles and Feldeine were dismissed from their housing in the Dana residence hall. At the time, the victim stated the university failed to penalize the basketball players.

Charles was later suspended from the basketball team and found guilty for fourth-degree sexual assault and second-degree unlawful restraint and breach of peace. Feldeine was at the home opener in November and played limited minutes in following games.