Lt Gen. John Rosa – in a letter to faculty, staff and alumni – said football recruits have been thoroughly vetted since head coach Kevin Higgins arrived in 2005.
“He and the coaching staff conduct numerous interviews with their recruits, their families, their coaches and the community leaders who know them best,” Rosa wrote.
Rice, a former Greenbrier High School football standout, was a cadet and Citadel football player from 2006 until 2008. While a senior at Greenbrier, he pleaded guilty to felony statutory rape following a September 2005 incident involving three teen girls. He was sentenced in Juvenile Court to 24 months of probation and 56 hours of community service.
Rice enrolled at The Citadel -- a traditional military school known for its strict discipline -- and was offered a scholarship.
Duncan Wheale, a former Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge and Citadel graduate, presided over Rice’s 2005 case and sent it to Juvenile Court. He would not comment on the case this week. Wheale, who now lives in Charleston with his wife, said he does volunteer work for the military institution.
Rosa said The Citadel’s admissions process tightened following the April 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.
“We now require more information from candidates,” Rosa wrote in his faculty letter. “Additionally, if the director of admissions has any concerns regarding an application, he presents them to me for consideration before final action is taken.”
Rice was arrested Feb. 27 and charged with armed robbery, first-degree burglary, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He is being held without bond on the first-degree burglary charge. Bond for his other three charges was set at $350,000. He has no attorney listed on court records.
He also had a clean record within the state, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division criminal history report.
Citadel quarterback Miguel Starks, College of Charleston student Sasha Gaskins and her boyfriend were also charged in the case after Citadel football assistant Josh Harpe told police he was lured from his apartment, forced back inside at gunpoint, bound with duct tape and robbed.
Starks is no longer enrolled at The Citadel, Rosa said in his statement.
Rice and Starks are listed as co-defendants on an affidavit charging Gaskins in another armed robbery case. Charleston County sheriff’s Maj. John Clark said more charges stemming from that case could come as early as today.
The victim in that case, Herbert Joseph Butler III, was a cadet from 2006 until 2008. He was enrolled during the spring of 2009 but did not complete the semester, according to The Citadel media relations coordinator Charlene Gunnels. Police believe Butler knew Rice, the Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston reported this week.
Butler has other problems.
The Charleston newspaper also reported today that Butler is being held in a Florida jail after pleading guilty Wednesday on marijuana sale charges, authorities said. He had initially been arrested Nov. 13 at a Florida campground, according to a Suwannee County sheriff’s report.
In 2006, Charleston police charged Butler with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, according to a SLED report.