Bulldogs' Croom suspends six players indefinitely

Updated: April 4, 2006, 3:16 PM ET
Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State football coach Sylvester Croom indefinitely suspended six players Tuesday after they were charged with assaulting a police officer last weekend.

The six players have pleaded not guilty, their lawyer said.

"It is my intent to discipline our players as if they were my own sons, my own flesh and blood," Croom said. "I believe this is the appropriate disciplinary action for the facts as we know them to be."

Five players were arrested Sunday night on the felony charge: cornerback Derek Pegues and safety Keith Fitzhugh, both starters; offensive tackle Michael Gates, and defensive ends Charles Burns and Quinton Wesley. Quarterback Tray Rutland was arrested Monday.

Each player is free on $25,000 bond. The players are accused of assaulting off-duty police officer Demetric Armstead during a fight downtown.

The coach said each player will be banned from activities at the sports and cultural center where the alleged assault happened. Each player will have an 11 p.m. curfew through the end of the spring semester and will undergo counseling, specifically sensitivity training.

"Ultimately, I am responsible for their actions and I take full responsibility," Croom said. "But I want to stress that these are good kids who come from good families, who made a serious mistake in judgment."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press