PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Three Pitt football players, including starting running back Ray Graham, will play on Saturday against No. 4 Notre Dame despite being charged with simple assault and conspiracy in connection with an incident last month involving three other students.
Graham, junior wide receiver Devin Street and redshirt freshman defensive back Lafayette Pitts deny they were involved in a confrontation with a student who told police he was hit in the head by one of the players.
Online court records don't list attorneys for the players charged in the complaint filed by city police on Thursday. The players were not arrested but have been mailed summonses to appear in Pittsburgh Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing on the charges Jan. 9.
Graham, of Elizabeth, N.J., is the Panthers' leading rusher with 622 yards and seven touchdowns. Street, of Bethlehem, Pa., is the team's leading receiver with 50 catches for 695 yards and four scores. Pitts, of East Pittsburgh, is also the team's top kick-returner.
School spokesman E.J. Borghetti said in a statement the players have offered to speak with police but have not been questioned or received any court documents.
"We take matters of player discipline very seriously and will continue to co-operate with any investigation," Borghetti said. "However, we will not, and hope others will not, rush to judgment on these misdemeanour allegations. All three players will remain active members of our program while we gain more clarity on this situation."
According to the complaint, Karl Olsheski, Diana Olsheski and Samantha Mitchell told police they were walking along a street in Oakland, the neighbourhood where the university is located, when a group of Pitt football players walked into their path from the opposite direction about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 21.
At the time, Karl Olsheski told police he didn't want to see the players arrested, but did want police to stop the group "so they wouldn't repeat their aggressions at other pedestrians," a criminal complaint said.
Police dispersed the groups and Olsheski and the females returned to a city police station that afternoon to report the incident in more detail. At that time, Diana Olsheski told police she recognized the players as Graham, Street and Pitts.
Karl Olsheski told police that Graham confronted him by saying, "What's up?" along with a racial slur. Olsheski said he tried to walk away but that Graham and Street blocked his way and Pitts kept him from retreating.
Olsheski "stated that shortly thereafter, he was struck one time on the left side of his head by Mr. Street."
Police tried to ensure the students identified the correct players by having them look at photo lineups. While none of the alleged victims could recognize all three players, each player was recognized by at least one, including Mitchell who recognized Street from a class they took together on vampires.
All six people allegedly involved in the incident are listed in the student directory, but none immediately responded to emails requesting comment.
Associated Press writer Joe Mandak contributed to this report.