Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Suspended football players remain absent, Mike Lee dismissed from team

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

Three members of the Massachusetts football team that were suspended from the team’s recent game against Western Michigan for a violation of team rules remained absent from practice on Tuesday.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Alan Williams, redshirt junior running back Jamar Smith and redshirt senior offensive lineman Nick Speller all did not make the trip to Kalamazoo, Mich. for “academic-related issues,” according to UMass coach Charley Molnar, and weren’t present at practice on either Monday or Tuesday.

Molnar said there’s no timetable for their return.

“I have some academic requirements that I’m expecting them to meet and once they meet them I’ll lift their suspension,” Molnar said. “But until they do that, I’m going to keep them away from the football team and really make sure they focus on their academics.

“They’re little to the players, but big to me. It’s important to me that our guys go to class, that they’re disciplined young men and they understand the importance of their education.”

Molnar announced on Monday that defensive back Mike Lee has been dismissed from the team for similar academic issues. Lee was suspended for the season-opener against Connecticut and also didn’t make the trip with the team to Western Michigan. Molnar said a collection of problems added up for Lee, ultimately ending in his dismissal.

“I wish Mike Lee the best, I sincerely like Mike Lee and enjoyed him, but everybody has to be in step with the rules of the football team,” Molnar said.

Bye week chance for UMass to regroup

After six consecutive weeks of playing games to start the season, the Minutemen are idle this week. Molnar said the No. 1 goal this week is for his team to get healthy for the second half of the season.

A number of players are currently sidelined with injuries. Among the most notable is tight end Rob Blanchflower, who didn’t travel with the team on Saturday as he is nursing a lower leg injury. Molnar said he’s hoping to have him back for the team’s Homecoming game against Bowling Green on Oct. 20, but that, realistically, he might not be back until the Vanderbilt game on Oct. 27.

Defensive back Antoine Tharpe, who also didn’t make the trip to Western Michigan last weekend due to a foot injury, is sidelined for the time being and could be out for several weeks, according to Molnar.

Molnar said he’s “optimistic” that if he’s not back for the Bowling Green game, that he will be for Vanderbilt.

Molnar is also hoping that the bye week gives his team a chance to improve on its fundamentals as it prepares for the next six games.

“We’re a team that continues to work on fundamentals, but you can’t spend as much time (during other weeks),” Molnar said. “We’re really working on some of the things that maybe we haven’t covered as much once we got into the regular season.”

Molnar said his team is still reeling a bit from its 52-14 loss to the Broncos, but are confident about closing the season on a positive note.

“I think (losses) always hang with you until you play your next football game,” Molnar said. “It’s tough to go into a bye with a loss, but our team is again very optimistic over its chances. And I think in the next six weeks, we’re going to get our share of wins.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.

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