Prank gone bad brings suspensions for four Rams

Updated: January 13, 2007, 4:30 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Four players on the Colorado State University women's basketball team have been suspended for setting off a chemical bomb outside the apartment of teammate Kelly Rae Finley, athletic spokesman Gary Ozello said Saturday. There were no injuries and no structural damage.

"There's nothing we can do about it right now. This will be a great experience for the rest of the players. It means that we will have to play a lot harder. Sarah Hunter, the only remaining starter, has to play nearly 40 minutes and have an MVP performance," coach Jen Warden told The Associated Press.

Police detective David Grant identified the suspended players as starting guards Emily Neal, 19, and Kelly Jo Mullaney, 18, both of Minneapolis, and reserve forward Raysha Ritter, 18, of Grand Junction, Colo., and reserve Brittney Stirling, 19, of Tucson, Ariz., all freshmen.

Warden said the suspended players will not be allowed to practice or sit on the bench when the Rams host New Mexico on Saturday.

"This is a case where four teammates were trying to play a prank on a teammate, and it went bad," Grant said. "They thought the device would just make a loud bang, and that it would not be a big deal. It was not meant in a malicious way by any means. I know that Mullaney and Finley are very good friends."

He added, "No one was hurt, and there was no property damage; but if someone had opened the door at the time the device exploded there could have been serious injuries." The bomb was made of chemicals that create an explosive acid.

Police spokeswoman Rita Davis said the four players all knew that two other team members were staying at the victim's apartment and thought it would be funny to scare them. She said they would be charged with one count of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan said Mullaney, Neal and Finley, 21, all played at the same Minnesota high school and have been friends for several years. The four suspended players apparently drove to Finley's apartment in Mullaney's car.

A witness reported their car after the Monday night incident.

"Once confronted, all four players confessed," Grant said.

Warden refused to say how long the suspensions would last. They leave the Rams with just eight available players. Mullaney was the team's leading scorer.

"This is an internal matter related to the team," Warden said. "This is a challenge that will help everyone involved grow."

The suspensions came on the day following the Rams' 73-57 loss Thursday night to Utah.

"Obviously, any time a student-athlete is involved in anything like this, our Office of Student Affairs will work closely with athletic department to determine the next step, if any, that will be taken," said Ozzello.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press