Three former Duke football players pleaded guilty in Durham County court Tuesday to charges of possession of a weapon on educational property and carrying a concealed weapon.
John Drew, Kyle Griswould and Brandon Putnam, all freshmen last year, were each given a year of supervised probation in place of a 45-day sentence, which the judge suspended. They each must complete 140 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine plus court fees. The players are also barred from campus.
The three players along with one unidentified non-student faced charges after police, who were responding to a fire alarm in Aycock Residence Hall, heard gunshots on East Campus around 3 a.m. Jan. 17. Police reported that the four fired the semi-automatic handgun into the air while driving around East, although it remains unclear how many shots were fired. The four were held in jail on a $40,000 secured bond on the night of the incident.
All three players later withdrew from the University. Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, said Wednesday that the University declined to comment on the case.
The players could have received as much as 13 to 16 months in prison, Chief John Dailey of the Duke University Police Department said in a January interview.
Dailey said Wednesday that he could not comment on who the unidentified person is, how many shots were fired, how the students obtained the weapon or whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the case. Dailey added that DUPD turned over all information to the district attorney.
Inside the courtroom, lawyers representing the defendants called the incident a “bad mistake” on the part of the former players, all of whom had no prior criminal record.
“[Griswould] is trying to show the court, his family and any other people that this was not in his character,” said Edward Falcone, Griswould’s attorney. “He has been trying to do what he can to rectify this.”
Since the incident, Griswould has enrolled at Chattahoochee Valley Community College and started working full-time at a Sears department store in Georgia, Falcone said.
Superior Court Judge David LaBarre acknowledged that the players have already suffered through a lot due to the incident, noting that each player’s athletic scholarship, valued at more than $200,000, is a “heavy price to lose for some stupid conduct.”
William Thomas, Putnam’s lawyer, also noted Putnam’s strong academic record. In his first semester at Duke, Putnam had a 3.7 GPA and made the ACC honor roll, Thomas said.
Drew, a 315-pound defensive tackle, played in all 12 games his freshman season, recording 34 tackles. He was projected to start during the 2010 season.
Griswould, a running back, and Putnam, a defensive end, did not see playing time last season.
After the court session, James “Butch” Williams, Drew’s attorney, said the players are glad to be done with “this mess” and are attempting to enroll in other schools and continue their football careers.
In court, Williams said several universities have contacted Drew about transferring, although he would not specify which schools.
Although it is unclear whether Drew will enroll at another university, he has local ties to North Carolina Central University, where his brother Chris Drew was a linebacker last season.
Many of the players started doing community service immediately after the incident in anticipation of their sentence, which the judge accepted toward their total 140 hours.