Citadel makes statement in Reggie Rice case

Friday, March 5, 2010 9:12 AM
Last updated 1:08 PM
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The Citadel’s top administrator defended the school’s admission process and football recruiting practices this week after Charleston, S.C., news media learned of Reggie Rice’s past problems while a student-athlete in Columbia County.

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An illustration shows Rice in high school where he was considered one of the top football players in the region his senior year.  File illustration
File illustration
An illustration shows Rice in high school where he was considered one of the top football players in the region his senior year.

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.

The full statement from The Citadel president Lt Gen. John Rosa:

“A Message to The Citadel Family:

We have all been staggered by the recent arrests of Miguel Starks and Reginald Rice. This episode shines a harsh light on the college because we hold ourselves to higher standards.

At this point we must keep in mind that the arrests of Mr. Starks and Mr. Rice are part of a police investigation.  I do not have all the information held by the police, and it would not be appropriate for me to speculate on an ongoing investigation. Moreover, we must remember that all Americans are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

I know that many of you have questions about Mr. Starks’ enrollment and departure from The Citadel.  I can report that Mr. Starks is no longer enrolled at The Citadel. However, the details of student records are protected by federal privacy laws.

There have also been questions surrounding the admission of Reginald Rice, a former cadet and football player who was arrested along with Mr. Starks.  Again, The Citadel is limited in what it can say.  However, upon his arrival in 2005, Coach Kevin Higgins instituted a vigorous investigative process of recruits’ backgrounds.  He and the coaching staff conduct numerous interviews with their recruits, their families, their coaches, and the community leaders who know them best. Additionally, there is an admissions process that all applicants, including athletes, must complete before gaining admission to The Citadel.  Mr. Rice, who came from an active-duty military family, was accepted in 2006, and offered a football scholarship.  His enrollment at the college ended during the fall 2008 semester.

As did many colleges in the country, The Citadel revised its admission application process following the tragedy at Virginia Tech.  We now require more information from candidates.  Additionally, if the director of admissions has any concerns regarding an application, he presents them to me for consideration before final action is taken.

I meet with our coaches every year and I deliver one, simple message:character first, then athletic ability. As someone who played football at The Citadel I understand personally the importance of recruiting and admitting cadet-student-athletes who are up to the challenges they will face on the playing field and in the Corps of Cadets.  Unfortunatelythis system is not foolproof, and there will be students who do not meet our expectations.

The alleged actions of two former students have caused some to question the integrity of the entire Corps.  That does a disservice to the fine young men and women who need our support, not condemnation.  My job and that of faculty and staff is to help them achieve the standards we expect.  Last week I conducted my annual President’s inspection.Although the Corps did not meet my full expectations, I saw effort and improvement from the previous two years.

Our Commandant, Col Leo Mercado, USMC (ret.), is personally dedicated to holding all cadets to the high standards clearly laid out in our regulations.  We constantly review our procedures to make sure they reinforce with cadets the importance of holding themselves and others accountable to that standard.  If we find a problem we fix it.  Our procedures are not perfect; no procedures are.  But we are committed to recognizing when there are flaws, and addressing them to improve our results.

I addressed the Corps at lunch today in Coward Hall. I told them what I expected of them, that they will hold themselves and others accountable for meeting the high standards of The Citadel.  I also told them all to take a hard look in the mirror and if they aren’t willing to meet our standards that they should leave The Citadel. I also let them know that I am confident they will uphold our college’s values and traditions.

Let’s also not forget that there is much good news here at The Citadel.Take a look at the college’s website, www.citadel.edu and the website of the athletic department, www.citadelsports.com.  You will find examples of how our students are succeeding in and out of the classroom.  Let me share just a few facts about the football team:

*       The fall semester football team GPA was 2.90 - the overall GPA of the Corps was 2.91.
*       About 60 of our football players earned a 3.0 or better during the fall semester.
*       Team member Ryan Keiper, who has earned Gold Stars during each of his seven semesters in the Corps, is a national finalist for a
Fulbright research grant.
*       The NCAA graduation success rate for The Citadel football team was 90%, compared to the national average of just 65 percent.

In closing, the times may change and the world around us may change, but The Citadel’s core values will remain constant.  Duty, honor, discipline - some of the core values that make Citadel education unique and why we all take such pride in this college.  We will continue to set the bar high for our cadets and do whatever we can to inspire their success.

Thank you again for all that you do on behalf of The Citadel.”

Comments (17) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/05/10 - 10:30 am
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Thanks, Stephen, for an

Thanks, Stephen, for an excellent story. The thing that keeps nagging at me besides the overall quality of Citadel football recruits (although that was somewhate alleviated by the statistics) is that Rice and Starks robbed someone they had played with who is now an assistant coach and who seemed to have lots of electronic type things in his apartment.

This coach would surely know them since he had watched them on game-practice video for long periods. Let's hope former Citadel quarterback, now Commandant John Rosa, will check into the role of the victim and recruiting.

CarlA
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CarlA 03/05/10 - 10:37 am
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Mr. Fastenau, Please check

Mr. Fastenau, Please check your facts. The Citadel is not a "private" military school. It is the Military College of SC and very, very public. Just ask Shannon Faulkner.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/05/10 - 10:41 am
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CarlA, you're right it's not

CarlA, you're right it's not a private school, but their grads form such an elite clique it could be and many think it is.

CarlA
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CarlA 03/05/10 - 10:47 am
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I am a C of C grad. We're

I am a C of C grad. We're not into robbing coaches at gunpoint. We just wanted to have fun and party!

Stephen Fastenau
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Stephen Fastenau 03/05/10 - 10:47 am
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Thanks, CarlA. The line was

Thanks, CarlA. The line was not in the story I submitted.

It will be changed ASAP.

CoastalDawg
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CoastalDawg 03/05/10 - 11:19 am
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Two students out of the

Two students out of the thousands of other students does not taint the entire Corps of Cadets. That having been said however one does wonder how a person who had pled guilty to statutory rape and served time for that would have been recruited and given a scholarship. There was a clue way back then that he didn't have his life in control, yet he was offered a free ride at that institution because he could play football. Subsequently though he didn't make the grade, once again not having control of his life - that cost him his scholarship and a free education. The article in the Charleston newspaper also indicated that he is a father and will soon welcome another child into the world - it did not mention whether or not that is with benefit of having a wife but obviously being a father was the last thing on his mind if he indeed participated in two burglaries and assaults on people he knew, whatever there reason. No vetting is foolproof however when a person's involvement with crime has already happened why take the risk? Now the whole Citadel is being held up to public scrutiny, probably as much for having given the scholarship in the first place as for any other reason. This posting relates only to the one who had already been booted from the school but each of the others have their own story, in particular the quarterback - when you hand some people things on a silver platter they try to steal the platter and sell it for whatever they can get from it. IF our government continues on the track on which it is headed we will see more and more of incidents like this..

CoastalDawg
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CoastalDawg 03/05/10 - 11:22 am
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Typographical correction:

Typographical correction: "whatever there reason" should read "whatever the reason".

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/05/10 - 11:36 am
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There was a way football

There was a way football players could enroll at The Citadel and not be part of the corp. I wonder if that's still in effect? Stephen, see if you can find that out. I was suprised about cadets being allowed to have off campus apartments and so on, too, for weekends. As Pat Conroy said, the most important part of a Citadel education is the Honor Code. These people went far beyond its violation.

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 03/05/10 - 12:22 pm
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It's all Obama' fault.

It's all Obama' fault.

joebowles
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joebowles 03/05/10 - 12:42 pm
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RIVERMAN, The way a player

RIVERMAN, The way a player can be on the team and not a cadet is only for one year and that athlete must be in the graduate program. That maybe a good way for us to find an upcoming graduate that played quarterback with 1 year eligibility left to replace this criminal.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 03/05/10 - 01:02 pm
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joe, didn't you go to this

joe, didn't you go to this school with Ed?

Mr. Thackeray
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Mr. Thackeray 03/05/10 - 01:30 pm
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"Commandant John Rosa" He is

"Commandant John Rosa" He is not commandant but rather president. There is more to this than is being said in public. That is all I will say.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/05/10 - 01:37 pm
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Joe, thanks for the info. But

Joe, thanks for the info. But I believe athletes who are veterans also would be exempt, wouldn't they? Remember the big flack about those veterans who graduated from The Citadel when they were given rings with the V on it.

Also, years ago...maybe at late as 1980, there was a program for non corp students and some were playing football. I was wondering if that concept had been reinstated.

Citadel has a great football program and some famous pro football players have played there, by the way. Plus, a future mayor of Augusta.

joebowles
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joebowles 03/05/10 - 01:44 pm
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Yes, Brad I went there with

Yes, Brad I went there with Ed and Chris Proctor. The 3 of us all graduated in 1993. The worse thing Ed and I ever did involved lots of drinking and playing rugby against Univ. of Michigan at LSU for Mardis Gras. I got knocked out and I continued to play for @ 10 minutes before we realized it. Thats probably why I am the way I am today.lol

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/05/10 - 01:46 pm
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Mr. Thackeray, thanks. I am

Mr. Thackeray, thanks. I am corrected. He is the president. The Commandant of Cadets is another position. I agree with you totally that there is more to this. I've been saying that all along. It is going to hurt The Citadel greatly. I love The Citadel and football, but it's just not THAT important. Johnson Hagood stadium will have great attendance no matter if Newberry plays the Bulldogs there.

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 03/05/10 - 05:39 pm
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Has college sports stooped so

Has college sports stooped so low as to recruit thugs. I guess it happened in the NFL, so why not in the NCAA. We have a tax cheat who is now in charge of the taxes collected, a preacher who can rail against the U.S. on public television,( Rev. Wright), and a president who wants to change the whole form of government, so whats new.

LCC0256
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LCC0256 03/05/10 - 05:54 pm
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Wasn't Reggie Rice one of

Wasn't Reggie Rice one of two? that were charged in the case at Greenbrier? At any rate it seems to me that he had support for his "innocence" from several key people. If this is the same case those influential people were vocal and effective in their support for Reggie so the judge went light on him (them?)...I think it is always a good idea to TRY (based on facts of case and personal history) to help out a teenager when he/she gets into trouble for the first time. Well in hindsight (which is always 20/20) i guess this young male (notice i did not call him a man - he obviously has not reached that plateau yet) had a propensity for thuggery after all....it seems a shame because there must be a lot of good in him or those supporting him would not have done so. Hopefully he changes his ways & becomes a productive & responsible man-citizen -i for one hope so.

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