According to the Omaha World-Herald, three players from the University of Nebraska Omaha men’s hockey team face allegations of disorderly conduct stemming from an altercation outside a local bar. Witnesses say the players were shouting racial slurs and got into a fight in the Old Market area of town.
Matt White, 25, Alex Simonson, 23, and Preston Hodge, 21, all members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha hockey team, were each ticketed Aug. 3 on suspicion of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
Lamar Triplett, 26, of Omaha, who got into a confrontation with the players, was ticketed on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.
City Prosecutor David Smallheiser said the men have not been formally charged and have court appearances scheduled in September.
Omaha police were called to a parking lot at 10th and Harney Streets about 2 a.m. to investigate a disturbance.
Witnesses told police that the hockey players had been harassing a small group of African-Americans with racial slurs and epithets.
More after the jump.
According to the World-Herald‘s report, Triplett, who maintains he was merely defending himself, alleges Hodge, as identified by police, confronted him using racial slurs. Hodge allegedly pushed Triplett, who responded by hitting Hodge, apparently leaving the UNO rookie unconscious. He was treated and released from a local hospital.
“We’re still gathering information about what transpired. Once we’ve finished gathering all the facts, we’ll be able to comment further,” UNO head coach Dean Blais said in a statement according to the World-Herald.
There’s really only one side of the story that is known at this point, and that is Triplett’s, so it would be unfair to judge the players based on that alone at this point.
However, if his allegations prove to be true, it puts Nebraska-Omaha in quite a difficult spot. Bar fights certainly happen in the alcohol-fueled environment of college. While no school wants their athletes involved in those obviously, it is the added element of racial slurs being thrown about that should bring an added sense of gravity to the situation.
As a university athletics department with a diverse base of student-athletes, it has a responsibility to ensure the safety and emotional well being of those student-athletes. When it comes to racial slurs — which in this situation are alleged racial slurs at this point — the university must take proper care of the situation, investigate fully and, if need be, execute a dismissal from the athletics program. Many universities have zero tolerance policies when it comes to racism, however I was unable to track down anything official from UNO.
UPDATE: Preston Hodge and Matt White have been dismissed from the program according to a release issued by the Nebraska Omaha athletics department. Via CollegeHockeyNews.com:
“Late Thursday afternoon, the UNO athletic department was made aware of an incident early in the morning of August 3,” UNO athletic director Trev Alberts said in a statement. “After an internal investigation which included a discussion with the Omaha Police Department, Preston Hodge and Matt White have been dismissed from the UNO hockey team and are no longer on scholarship.
“We are extremely disappointed in the actions of these students; we will not tolerate any misconduct of this nature. We will continue to work diligently to ensure our student athletes understand the importance of tolerance and respect for others”.
So there you have it. Action was swift and significant from the athletics department, suggesting validity to the allegations agains the players.
Senior Matt White posted 34 points for the Mavericks last season and led the team in scoring as a sophomore the year before. White was named USA Hockey’s Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year in 2010 after leading the USHL with 82 points for the Omaha Lancers. The California native was among those expected to garner some looks as an unrestricted free agent out of college hockey after this season.
Preston Hodge was due to enter his first year at UNO. He spent the last two seasons in the United States Hockey League and collected 142 career penalty minutes while suiting up for three different teams in the league.
This is a pretty significant statement from the university and if the facts are accurate, the right one. UNO will lose one of its biggest offensive threats in White heading into the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The Mavericks have had a lot of positive momentum in recent years, attracting top recruits and seemingly annually contending for a spot in the NCAA tournament. This incident is certainly a setback for the program as a whole thanks to the unfortunate acts of individuals.
The trio of UNO players, two of which are now former players, are due in court in Omaha in September, according to the Omaha World-Herald.