In a year where off-the-field issues have frequently stolen the spotlight, the Penn State football team now finds itself in the middle of another hubbub. Or maybe this one should be called a HUB-bub.
Thursday morning, two Nittany Lions were arraigned on charges of aggravated assault, a felony, in connection to an alleged altercation at the school's student union building, the HUB, in the early morning hours of Oct. 7.
Starting defensive tackle Chris Baker and reserve linebacker Navorro Bowman were also charged with the felony as well as with misdemeanor counts of simple assault, harassment and stalking, and disorderly conduct.
After the arraignment, both were released on their own recognizance. Baker is already free on unsecured bail stemming from an incident earlier this year, but authorities said they will not seek to revoke that bail prior to this weekend.
Later Thursday, Penn State associate athletic director for communications Jeff Nelson released a statement stating that Baker and Bowman would not be traveling to East Lansing for Saturday's game against Michigan State.
Reserve defensive back Knowledge Timmons was charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass in connection with the incident at the HUB. But the summary charges were mailed to him and he did not face arraignment.
Penn State's statement also stated that Timmons would not be making the trip to Michigan State for Saturday's game.
Police contend Baker and Bowman were involved in the beating of a man just outside the HUB at 1:46 a.m. Oct. 7. The Nittany Lions topped Iowa, 27-7, in a home game the previous day.
According to a police report, Baker told authorities he, Bowman and 13 other Penn State football players attended a party held by a fraternity at the HUB on the night of Oct. 6 and into the morning of Oct. 7. The fight in question broke out at the end of the party, according to the report.
The alleged victim, Varney Capehart, sustained swelling of the face, an unspecified eye injury and a broken nose, according to the police report. In the report, Capehart contends that while at the party, he brushed into someone and apologized, but that an argument ensued. He said he then walked outside, but was followed by as many as 15 members of the Penn State football team. He contends he was attacked by all 15 players, though he said there were four primary aggressors.
Elsewhere in the report, Baker contends that Capehart began the trouble when he repeatedly bumped into Bowman during the party. He said Capehart later charged Bowman outside of the party, starting a fight between the two.
Timmons was not charged in connection with the fight, but for his conduct after the police arrived to investigate the incident, according to the report.
Baker, 20, is already awaiting trial on charges of burglary, criminal trespass, simple assault and harassment in connection with an April 1 altercation at a downtown State College apartment. Baker is free on unsecured bail for those charges, and authorities said they do not intend to seek revocation of the bail.
Despite facing the trial on those charges, Baker has been a mainstay for the Nittany Lion defense this season, starting seven of 11 games and posting strong numbers (37 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks). He is coming off one of his better games, as he had 2.5 sacks in a 31-0 shutout of Temple in Philadelphia Saturday.
Penn State is already thin on the defensive line due to injury. Starting tackle Jared Odrick sustained a broken ankle in October and will not be cleared to resume full workouts until mid-January. Promising true freshman Devon Still tore an ACL in the preseason, forcing him to redshirt this fall. And defensive end Jerome Hayes tore an ACL in October, too, sending him to the sideline for the rest of the season.
Bowman has split snaps with starter Tyrell Sales at outside linebacker. He has 16 tackles and a sack this year.
Timmons is a backup defensive back who sees most of his action on special teams. He has five tackles.
It has been a troubling season off the field at Penn State.
Senior Austin Scott, who began the year as the team's starting tailback, was suspended from the program=m in mid-October. Shortly thereafter, he was accused of raping a woman in his on-campus apartment Oct. 5, and charges against Scott were bound over for trial.
Starting safety Anthony Scirrotto is also awaiting trial on charges of criminal trespass and harassment in connection with the April 1 fight.
There have also been two separate instances where Penn State football players have been charged with underage drinking, one of which involved starting tight end Andrew Quarless.
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