Three WVU players charged with felony possession kicked off team

Updated: February 7, 2008, 5:17 PM ET
Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart dismissed three players charged with felony possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

Linebacker John Holmes, defensive lineman James Ingram and running back Ed Collington were kicked off for a violation of team rules, Stewart said in a statement Thursday. None was a starter.

"These three players are dismissed from all aspects of the Mountaineer football family," Stewart said.

They will, however, retain their scholarships through the end of the school year, pending the legal process.

The Monongalia County sheriff's department says the three were acting suspiciously as they left an apartment complex Tuesday night and were later pulled over for speeding.

After smelling a strong odor of marijuana, deputies searched the vehicle and found individually wrapped bags of marijuana.

After Ingram allegedly told a deputy he had illegal drugs at his apartment, investigators found marijuana and bags used to package the drug in a bedroom.

Holmes, a junior from Rockledge, Fla., played in all 13 games last season. He had 39 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery.

Collington played in seven games last season. The junior from Pittsburgh rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

Ingram, a sophomore from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, played in five games and recorded two tackles.

On Wednesday, Stewart stressed character when he announced the signing of two dozen recruits. He pointed to former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross, a friend and mentor who instilled in him the desire to find players of solid character.

Stewart talked Wednesday about expectations off the field, citing West Virginia's 48-28 victory over Oklahoma in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Stewart was then the interim coach after Rich Rodriguez had left for Michigan.

"We were in the desert, had casinos over here, dance halls over there. Pockets full of money," Stewart said. "We had 125 young men. Eight days, seven nights -- one curfew bust.

"Coaching did not win the Fiesta Bowl. Chemistry, teammates, character, doing things the right way, being accountable, being responsible. That's the reason we won the Fiesta Bowl."

Stewart appears to be taking a tougher stance on disciplinary matters than his predecessor.

During Rodriguez's tenure from 2001 to 2007, he had to handle incidents involving Chris Henry and Pacman Jones, who have gone on to NFL careers that have been marred by suspensions.

Jones pleaded guilty as a sophomore in 2003 to a misdemeanor battery charge resulting from a bar fight and received a year's probation in court. He was never suspended from the team.

Henry was disciplined three times during his final season in 2004.

He didn't start one game for previous on-the-field antics, sat out the first half of another game for receiving two unsportsmanslike conduct penalties in a previous contest, and was suspended for the regular-season finale against Pittsburgh for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press