MSU responds to player arrests

Minot State University linebacker Jesse D. Ili, 21, has been removed from the football team after being charged with attempted murder, a Class A felony, following an altercation with two Minot police officers Friday night.

According to a police affidavit, Ili fled from a vehicle suspected of drug activity and fought with officers Erik Laudenschlager and Brandon Schmidt once they caught up to him. Ili overpowered Schmidt and repeatedly slammed his head into a retaining wall post – even after his body appeared to be limp and unconscious – according to the affidavit. Both officers were transported to the Trinity Hospital emergency room and treated for injuries.

Four other MSU football players, Kwajo S. Bonsu, 22; Thomas D. Boles-Armstrong, 19; Grant J. Jansen, 18; and Leon L. LaDeaux, 21; were charged with possession of marijuana and ingestion of a controlled substance and are suspended indefinitely from the team.

Ili, also known as Jesse Tauiliili, was ordered held on $200,000 bond at his initial hearing Tuesday at the Ward County Courthouse.

MSU coach Paul Rudolph said the decision to dismiss Ili was made “long before” Ili’s initial hearing.

“At this point in time, he’s gotta run the gamut of the legal channels,” Rudolph said.

It’s not the first time Ili has been booted from a college football team. The 6-foot, 220-pounder started a game at fullback for Fresno State in 2012, but was “dismissed from the team last year for a violation of athletic department policy,” according to an email from Fresno State staff member Jason Clay.

Rudolph said he talked to multiple Fresno State coaches while recruiting Ili.

“He missed a test,” Rudolph said. “It wasn’t anything to do with the legal system, it wasn’t anything to do with academic fraud. It wasn’t anything to do with any of that stuff.”

Rudolph didn’t share a timetable for when more will be known about the suspensions of the other four players, but said “they won’t play Saturday,” when the Beavers open their season. In May 2012, now-sophomore cornerback Cooper Helm pleaded guilty for possession of marijuana and played all 11 games the following season. Rudolph didn’t specify the reason for the change in disciplinary procedure.

In a statement released Tuesday by MSU, Athletic Director Rick Hedberg expressed hope that the recent legal troubles don’t reflect on the entire athletic department.

“Unfortunately, the poor decisions made by a small group put a negative light on things and I feel for the 300-plus other student-athletes on our campus that weren’t involved,” Hedberg said. “Minot State does not tolerate any criminal activity and we have a strict code of conduct rules in place for issues as great as these. We will handle the situation once all the facts are known.

“Our hope is that all student-athletes can learn from this incident to make better choices in the future,” Hedberg said.

The Beavers open their season at 11 a.m. Saturday at Concordia-St. Paul.