A day after TCU celebrated the announcement of the release of its first Big 12 schedule, it's football team is dealing with fallout from a campus-wide drug bust that led to the arrest of 17 students, including four football players.
Linebacker Tanner Brock, safety Devin Johnson, tackle Ty Horn and defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey all were dismissed from the football program and could be expelled if found guilty.
Brock missed most of the 2011 season with an injury, but led the 2010 Rose Bowl-winning team in tackles and was supposed to be the anchor of the linebacking corps in 2012. Yendrey led all TCU interior linemen in 2011 with 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Johnson, a former walk-on turned starter, had 49 tackles and three pass breakups last season. Horn was competing for a starting spot.
The arrests were the result of a six-month investigation by the Fort Worth police department and campus police after students and several parents had called into the authorities with tips.
According to TCU Chief of Police Steve McGee, the drugs being sold were marijuana, cocaine, the club drug "molly" (some in powder form, some in pill form), acid and prescription drugs including Xanex, hydrocodone and others similar to OxyContin. They were sold to undercover officers, among others, during hand-to-hand transactions.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that our campus environment is free of such behavior," TCU chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. said in a statement released by TCU. "Today's actions highlight that responsibility. The students involved were immediately separated from TCU and criminally trespassed from campus. Further, according to University policy, students arrested and found in violation of distributing drugs are subject to immediate expulsion from TCU."
This is really the first black eye for a school that has traditionally stayed above the fray when it comes to illegal activity. Last year, Sports Illustrated applauded TCU as the only top 25 team in 2010 with no players on its roster with criminal records. Coach Gary Patterson has run a pretty tight ship and has been lauded for his players doing the right things off the field.
"Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student-athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period,"Patterson said in a statement. "Our program is respected nationally for its strong ethics and for that reason the players arrested today were separated from TCU by the University. I believe strongly that young people's lives are more important than wins or losses."
According to the Dallas Morning News, the police said they had not determined whether the four football players were selling to other athletes and Boschini said he didn't think the four players involved were the sign of a widespread problem throughout the team.
"I don't think it's a football problem," Boschini said.
In a span of 24 hours, TCU football has gone from elation over the release of the new schedule to deflation after news of the drug bust broke. Now it's all about damage control. Credit Patterson for taking swift action against the players implicated. He said in a statement that he was alerted to the news Wednesday morning.
"As I heard the news this morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad," Patterson said.
TCU has drummed up a lot of support in the past few years after two BCS bowl appearances and a four consecutive seasons with at least 11 wins. In the past four years, TCU has amassed a 47-5 record. It will be interesting to see if that support wavers in light of recent events.
Added Patterson: "There are days people want to be a head FB coach, but today is not one of those days."
- - -
Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham
Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Georgia boys basketball team forfeits playoff game over football brawl
• Ex-ballplayer Dave Valle restores hope in Dominican Republic
• ABC News: Bobby Brown denies he's shut out of Whitney Houston's funeral