Cal U president vows review of football program in wake of 6 players’ arrests
Interim President Geraldine Jones said California University of Pennsylvania will resume football play this weekend, but she is ordering a review of the football program because of the arrest of six players in a brutal beating that left an eastern Pennsylvania man hospitalized with serious brain injuries.
Jones, who canceled Cal U’s contest last weekend with Gannon University, forcing the conference contenders to forfeit the game, issued a statement late Monday saying play will resume Saturday at Mercyhurst University.
“In consideration of those players, band members, cheerleaders and others involved with the football program who have lived up to the university’s core values and expectations, Cal U’s intercollegiate football season will resume this week,” Jones said.
“I have told our Vulcan football players that we will strictly adhere to a zero tolerance policy. Any infraction of team conduct rules will result in immediate suspension from the team,” Jones concluded, after meeting with head football coach Mike Kellar and his team Monday afternoon.
Witnesses told police a group of Cal U players attacked Lewis Campbell, 30, outside a restaurant near the campus shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday, when Lewis attempted to intervene in an argument between his girlfriend and one of the players. Witnesses said the players left the scene chanting “Football strong,” as Campbell lay unconscious on the sidewalk.
A spokeswoman for Allegheny General Hospital said Campbell was in fair condition.
The players charged in the beating, Corey Ford, 22, of Harrisburg; James Williamson, 20, of Parkville, Md.; Jonathan Barlow, 21, of Pittsburgh; Rodney Gillin Jr., 20, of Reading; and D’Andrea Dunkley, 19, of Philadelphia were arrested Thursday during football practice. A sixth player, Shelby Wilkerson, 20, of Harrisburg, turned himself in to police Saturday morning.
All six were charged with charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, harassment and criminal conspiracy.
In her call for a review of the football program, Jones referred to ongoing issues with the program.
“In light of this and previous incidents, California University will conduct a thorough review of the football program to confirm that its image, recruiting and philosophy live up to the university’s standards. Athletic director Dr. Karen Hjerpe and acting Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Bruce Barnhart will lead a task force that will conduct a top-to-bottom review,” she said.
Kellar could not be reached for comment.
Court records show three of the six players held in the attack on Campbell have had prior arrests while at the univeersity. Ford pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges in November 2013, and Gillin pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in March 2013. Barlow was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia in March 2013, but charges were dropped.
A university spokeswoman said the players have been suspended from the team and the university.
A seventh Vulcans football player, Anthony William McPoyle, 21, of Dover, Del.,was arrested Oct. 2 and charged with resisting arrest, assault of a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault after police were called to quell a skirmish at a bar near the university.
His name has been removed from the team online roster.
Debra Erdley is a Trib Total Media staff writer.