Players apologize after arrests, dismissal from team
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Two South Carolina freshman baseball stars kicked off the team following their arrests on burglary charges apologized to teammates, coaches and the school but gave no other explanation, South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said Tuesday.
Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall and pitcher Nick Fuller were dismissed Monday.
Fuller, a third-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft last spring, was charged with three counts of burglary and three counts of grand larceny. Chisenhall, an outfielder who Baseball America ranked as its top freshman before the season, was charged with one count each of grand larceny and burglary.
"You have things that happen and guys make mistakes," Tanner said. "You don't expect things like this to happen. You just don't know what to say. You don't know how to react."
Fuller was accused of stealing $3,100 from an assistant coach's locker and stealing three laptop computers from an academic center, according to university police incident reports.
Fuller and Chisenhall were also charged with taking a flat-screen TV, a PlayStation 3 system and several games from a dorm room.
"They just made bad decisions and now they're certainly going to have to pay for them," Tanner said.
Both players turned themselves into police and were released from jail, according to attorney Neal Lourie, who represented the pair at a bail hearing. Lourie said Fuller would remain his client and had an initial court appearance next month. He had no further comment.
According to the incident report, South Carolina's longtime assistant Jim Toman told police he had put $3,100 in a garnet bank bag and placed it under several items of clothing in his locker March 13. He left and the bag was gone when he returned.
Police found no signs of forced entry. Toman told authorities several people had access to the area and provided a list of names.
Tanner said the cash was "meal money" for players.
On March 14, campus authorities were called to Academic Enrichment Center in the athletic dorm area. They found a glass door shattered and the three missing computers valued at $4,500.
In one dorm-room theft, a man told police someone took an RCA 26-inch TV worth about $700; a Playstation 3 system worth $700; and about six games valued at about $300.
In another dorm-room theft, a man told authorities his Nintendo Wii game system, valued at about $300, was taken.
Tanner said the missing items and cash had been returned.
"Wrong is wrong. You certainly condone mistakes, especially in your own family," Tanner said. "Everything they did was wrong."
Tanner was overcome by emotion several times and had to walk away from more than a dozen reporters at one point before he returned to answer more questions.
"The only thing I'm thinking about is Nick, Lonnie and their families," Tanner said. "I'll be fine. This team will be fine. This program will be fine. You wish you had some answers. But there aren't any."
Chisenhall, from Newport, N.C., started 19 games and was hitting .313 with one home run and 13 RBIs. He was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 11th round last June.
Fuller, a right-hander from Marietta, Ga., hadn't allowed a hit or run in five relief innings. He had seven strikeouts and seven walks in his six appearances.
South Carolina (18-3) ranks as high as No. 2 in the country in this week's national polls. The Gamecocks beat UNC Asheville 9-2 on Tuesday night.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press