By Christina Calloway
“Innocent until proven guilty” is what Eastern New Mexico University Athletic Director Jeff Geiser had to say Saturday about his decision to let 17 ENMU baseball players involved in a fight return to the field Saturday to play a doubleheader against San Angelo.
ENMU lost the first game 9-4 and won the second 7-6 in 10 innings.
Roosevelt County Detention Center’s jail administrator and ENMU President Steve Gamble confirmed the ballplayers each posted bail after being arrested Friday afternoon on charges of disorderly conduct for their alleged participation in the fight that took place last week.
The ballplayers arrested made up nearly half the team. There are 37 active players listed on a roster on ENMU’s website. The investigation remains open, according to ENMU police.
Geiser decided the players should be allowed to play while the investigation continues, adding the players’ focus needs to be on baseball right now.
“Every situation is unique and I think the truth will eventually come out and I’m taking the approach that we’re innocent until proven guilty and that will be my take on this,” Geiser said.
Gamble said he was able to obtain a few more details about the incident Saturday but said the university will commence its own investigation into the matter on Monday.
Gamble said the party took place off campus last weekend where “words created some hard feelings” and caused a dispute among students.
Gamble said the fight spilled over into an altercation in the parking lot of San Juan Village, which is a student housing unit for students.
“It’s my understanding nobody was hurt seriously but there was enough evidence to result in the arrests of (17) members of the baseball team,” Gamble said.
Gamble said he had no details on how the fight was broken up or how police investigated it.
“They have an investigation to do and we’re staying out the way while they’re doing it,” Gamble said.
Gamble added that he knows other non-athletes were involved and possibly non-students but he said he does not know if other arrest warrants have been issued related to the incident.
Gamble said he does not know what evidence the police have against the baseball players but knows a judge felt it was enough to issue the warrants.
“We are going to look into the situation at the university to see if our discipline policies have been broken,” Gamble said.