Four UMass football players suspended following arrest
An updated version of this story was posted at 12:41 a.m. Monday, Oct.5, 2009.
Four members of the University of Massachusetts football team were arrested Thursday night for possession of a Class B substance (cocaine), according to The Daily Hampshire Gazette, which Friday.
Defensive back James Carven, defensive linemen Bob McLaughlin, linebacker Mike Mele and defensive back Shane Viveiros all pleaded innocent to the charges on Friday and were subsequently suspended from the program for an unspecified length of time.
According to a statement from UMass Athletics, the four players were suspended for violation of athletic department and team rules.
“In terms of the length, it will become more defined next week,” department spokesman Jason Yellin said. “There are legal ramifications surrounding this issue.”
UMass coach Kevin Morris and athletic director John McCutcheon declined comment on the matter.
Mele and Viveiros were also charged with using false identification, with both pleading innocent to the charges. All four players were released on their own recognizance and have a pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 16.
According to an Associated Press report, Amherst Police Detective Richard MacLean said the by Amherst police shortly before midnight on Thursday. District Attorney Michael Cahillane told The Gazette that the four men were found behind a restaurant on East Pleasant Street in Amherst acting suspiciously. When the police officer who investigated the suspicious activity found the four Minutemen, Viveiros and Mele were found with false identifications and the four men were allegedly in possession of cocaine.
The suspensions come during UMass’ bye week. The Minutemen resume play Oct. 10 when they travel to Delaware.
Sophomore Viveiros, a Fall River native, was the lone starter of the four suspended players, starting this season at strong safety. The other three men are all juniors.
Viveiros started in UMass’ first game of the season at Kansas State, recording eight tackles and three pass-break ups. The start was the third of his career after he started the final two games of the 2008 campaign for UMass.
Viveiros missed the following game due to injury but has played in the Minutemen’s last two contests, including their victory over Stony Brook on Sept. 26 where he recorded his first career interception, returning it 25 yards. The safety has recorded 19 tackles this season as well as a team best four pass break-ups.
McLaughlin, son of former NFL linebacker and UMass football star Joe McLaughlin, recorded three tackles on the year, one against Albany and two versus Stony Brook. McLaughlin’s father played from 1979-1984 in the NFL with the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers and helped UMass to its Division 1-AA National Title game in 1978. He was also named a member of UMass’ Hall of Fame Class of 2009 and will be inducted in this Friday.
Carven saw action in UMass’ first two games this season, recording two solo tackles in UMass’ win over Albany in week two.
Mele, a transfer out of Syracuse, was in his first year with the Minutemen after starting all 12 games last season for the Orange. Mele has yet to see time this season at UMass.
Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at email@example.com.