DUI arrest fourth in 6 months for NDSU

Updated: July 22, 2009, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. -- North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl returned from conference media day festivities earlier this week to a familiar refrain for his football team: A player arrested for allegedly driving drunk.

Backup linebacker Blake Sczepanski, expected to play sparingly this fall, was arrested in the early morning hours on a Fargo street -- the fourth Bison player cited for DUI in six months.

Sczepanski was suspended from the team indefinitely.

"You know what, it's disappointing," Bohl said Tuesday, one day after the Bison head coach outlined his team's prospects in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. "Playing athletics here is a privilege and not a right. We have a zero tolerance policy and we certainly have sent out a consistent message."

Not everyone is listening.

Starting defensive end Garrett Johnson was cited for DUI in March. Return specialist Shamen Washington and backup quarterback Jose Mohler were arrested about a half-hour apart in April. All three were suspended indefinitely.

Two Bison players also have been arrested on drug charges in the last year. Starting wide receiver Jordan Schultenover was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Seldom-used quarterback Troy Jackson was charged with possession of marijuana. Both were kicked off the team.

"The problem is there are a few kids on the team who aren't getting the message," NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said. "It's affecting the kids who are doing the right thing. I don't think they are thinking of their teammates."

Bohl, an assistant at Nebraska from 1994 to 2000, took over the Bison program in 2003 while it was making the transition from Division II to Division I-AA, now known as Football Championship Subdivision. He has an overall record of 49-17 with NDSU.

The Bison were 6-5 last year, including a 4-4 mark in their first year of Missouri Valley play. A poll of league coaches, media and sports information directors picks NDSU to finish fourth this season.

Running back Tyler Roehl, who had the best single-game rushing effort in school history with 263 yards before wrapping up his career last fall, said the arrests overshadow some of the good things players do for the school and community. Roehl has spoken to middle school students in the area about making good choices.

"You don't like to see your program in a bad light. That's four (DUIs) now and that's tough to take," Roehl said. "But there's no doubt in my mind the players will learn from it. You've got to."

Taylor said Bohl takes a harder stance against legal problems than some of his predecessors.

"That has come up," Taylor said. "The people I talk to who support the program recognize that we don't take it lightly anymore."

Said Bohl, "I wouldn't say they are treated with a sense of entitlement at all. They're held accountable for school, they're accountable for their social behavior and they're certainly accountable for their athletic performance."

Bison athletes are required to attend drug and alcohol seminars once each semester. The school is increasing efforts this fall with a pilot program to screen football players for high risk behavior, said Laura Oster-Aaland, NDSU student orientation director.

The program may be expanded to include all athletes, she said.

"Nationally, student-athletes are definitely a concern as far as alcohol and drug use," Oster-Aaland said. "There's just a lot of research that shows they drink in more high risk ways than other students."

Oster-Aaland said there are other factors working against efforts to curb substance abuse. National surveys show that North Dakota leads the way in binge drinking in all age groups, she said.

"This is not a youth problem in our state. Our adults are drinking in high risk ways also," Oster-Aaland said. "Why would we expect our young people to be different?"

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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