Charlie Weis addressed the reports that two of his players were arrested along with 37 others at a house party in South Bend over the weekend. Junior tight end Will Yeatman and freshman offensive lineman Mike Golic, Jr. reportedly were among at least 15 other Notre Dame student athletes who were arrested for underaged drinking early Sunday morning.
While Weis said that the matter would be handled internally for Golic since this was his first offense, it could have far greater ramifications for Yeatman, who was arrested for driving under the influence in January. Yeatman was suspended from both the football and the lacrosse teams for the spring semester and his plea agreement with the courts called for him to stay out of trouble for a year. If the prosecutors determine that Yeatman violated the terms of that agreement, his previous charges could be brought up again.
Weis said on Tuesday that Yeatman will practice with the team while Weis continues to collect evidence of exactly what happened, but that the tight end will not be allowed to play in a game until there is some conclusion.
"I'm still in the process of gathering information, but until further notice I have decided to hold Will Yeatman from competition until his matter is resolved," Weis said. "Any other action as it relates to team rules, including the situation with Mike Golic will be handled by me. From the team standpoint, both Will and Mike will be at practice…I won't let (Yeatman) compete on Saturday unless we have resolution on this matter."
As head coach, Weis has to take into account many factors when it comes to disciplining players.
"I think that the most important thing is for me to look out for the interest of the kids and the team and the university," he said. "I have to try to have those mutually coexist peacefully and try to do what's in the best interest of all three."
With Yeatman's absence, however long it may be, the tight end position has officially been transformed from one of the deepest on the roster to a cause for concern. Sophomore Mike Ragone earned the starting job at tight end in the spring as Yeatman sat out with his suspension, but Ragone underwent season-ending surgery on his knee just weeks before the season.
Without Yeatman, the position is now comprised of freshmen Kyle Rudloph, who has started the first three games, and Joseph Fauria along with junior converted-fullback Luke Schmidt. Notre Dame did not plan on having to use a year of eligibility in Fauria's case, but may have no choice now.
"The depth chart has changed," Weis joked. "The obvious guy that comes to the forefront right off the bat is Fauria. Here's a guy where there's a good chance that he could go through the year and not play this year. Well, there's a good chance that that won't happen. As a matter of fact, today instead of practicing on the scout team he'll be practicing with the big boys."
Weis also hinted that there could be other options like moving players from another position to tight end.
"We have other contingency plans," Weis said. "The names, I can't give you on those, but we do have them."
As he has done in the past, Weis referred to his own son, Charlie Jr., when talking about his approach to his players.
"I think that I try to treat these kids similar to as if I were talking to Charlie," Weis said. "Whether it be Will or Charlie Jr., or whoever else it would be, as you go through growing pains, you just try to educate, teach, say, just let them know that you weren't perfect when you went through the growing experience yourself. And just try to educate them as best you can, give them as much guidance as you can."
Alcohol is just one of the delicate issues that a college head coach has to deal with.
"There are very few societal issues that I don't address on a fairly regular basis and I don't wait until there's a problem to address them, I address them on a fairly regular basis," Weis said. "It's tough when you're dealing with a team where you have 21 and 22-year old guys and you've got 18 and 19-year old guys and obviously 20-year old guys… The guys that are considered men and a guy that is six months younger then them, so it's a fine line. But the laws are the laws."