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Published: Thursday, 8/26/2004

2 football players charged with assault during party

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Joseph Kay, 22, of Temperance was charged with felonious assault. Terrance Partee, 20, of Lexington, N.C., was charged with assault.

Police believe Mr. Kay, who attended Bedford High School, punched and pushed another UT student, Mark Heck, 20, into a window during a fight.

Mr. Heck suffered what police described as severe lacerations. He had to have surgery at Toledo Hospital to repair the injury.

Partee Partee
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Police said they believe Donald Kopchak, 20, another student, was hurt by Mr. Partee.

Capt. Ron Spann said the charges end the department's investigation into the incident.

Mr. Kay, a fourth-string walk-on sophomore defensive lineman, has been removed from the football team, said Paul Helgren, UT sports information director. Mr. Partee, a fourth-string, red-shirt freshman tight end, is suspended from the team indefinitely.

"Based on the information that I have received with respect to an incident off-campus last weekend, I have decided to take these actions against these two individuals," UT football Coach Tom Amstutz said. "We have a high standard of behavior for the players on our football team, and we will deal very firmly with anyone who does not live up to that standard."

Mr. Amstutz, though, seemed to leave the door open for Mr. Partee to rejoin the Rockets. "He's suspended until further notice," the coach said when asked if he could return.

UT President Dan Johnson said he has not seen the police or internal university reports on the incident. He said he feels strongly that behavior like the party fight will not be tolerated by the university.

"The safety of our students is an important concern," he said before appearing before a Toledo City Council committee yesterday afternoon. "The students, faculty, and staff do not accept this kind of behavior. Ninety-nine percent of our students follow the student code of conduct. We have one, two, or three who get out of line like in this case."

Mr. Johnson said no one has brought up compensation for victims of the incident, and he probably will not discuss that until he's seen the final police and internal reports.

Police said 50 to 100 people attended the party at the off-campus apartment house. They said most were university students. Police said one of the men involved in the fight was kicked out of the party.

That person said he'd be back with the football team to "shoot the place up." He returned a short time later with people who ran upstairs where the victims were beaten.

Mr. Amstutz said he had talked to his team about the seriousness of the incident.

"A lot of guys are upset that the actions of a few are putting the entire team in a bad light," Mr. Amstutz said.

This is the third incident in recent years involving UT football players under Mr. Amstutz, who became head coach in 2001.

Brandon Hefflin, a former All-Mid-American Conference cornerback for the Rockets, was suspended from the team in 2003 after he was involved in a fight at The Top Shelf Bar, 135 Byrne Rd. He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in March, 2003, and was allowed back on the team his senior year.

Brock Dodrill, a linebacker, was suspended indefinitely from the team and sentenced to 90 days in jail in January after violating his probation for underage drinking. The underage drinking conviction stemmed from a Dec. 27, 2003, party in Defiance and a later egg-throwing incident.

Mr. Dodrill and Garrit Nixon, 20, of Defiance ran from police who were responding to a complaint. Mr. Dodrill was caught, but Mr. Nixon ran into the nearby Auglaize River and drowned.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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