Men’s basketball player Royce White was charged on Friday with three counts of misdemeanor trespassing for a Nov. 7 incident at Territorial Hall.
The charges stem from a University of Minnesota police investigation into a stolen laptop.
White’s attorney F. Clayton Tyler said a court date has been set for Feb. 1.
“Anytime you’re charged with something I think that it’s a serious matter, but obviously this is certainly a lot better than a felony theft charge,” Tyler said.
According to the complaint, a group of males were wandering the halls and entering rooms of the residence hall the night of the laptop theft.
One witness said that this group entered her room around 8 p.m. without knocking and closed the door, the complaint said. She told investigators that she recognized one member of the group as a University of Minnesota basketball player.
The player, whom she later identified as White, said, “Hey, I’m Royce. Do you know who I am?” The group exited the room after being asked to leave by the witness, according to the complaint.
The witness’ friend, who was also in the room, said in the complaint that she saw the same group “trying door handles” in the hallway.
Another witness said White and a friend opened her door, entered and stayed for roughly one minute asking questions about “where the party was at,” according to the complaint. The witness said that White left after realizing his presence was unwelcomed.
Another resident told investigators a similar story.
“The truth of the matter is, what they’ve charged Royce with, darn near any freshman at the University of Minnesota could be charged with,” Tyler said.
No theft charges have been filed in connection with the stolen laptop, and White is the only person facing charges as a result of the investigation, according to University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner.
“There isn’t enough evidence at this point to charge [White] with the burglary [or] theft,” Miner said.
White is on probation after pleading guilty to theft and disorderly conduct stemming from an Oct. 13 incident at the Mall of America. Tyler said that the new charges do not violate the terms of White’s probation since the incident took place before the court’s ruling.
Tyler praised University police’s thoroughness in the investigation and said they were in a tough position because they don’t want to appear as being too lenient on athletes.
With White’s campus-celebrity status, Tyler said he is unsure whether White’s case may have been handled differently.
“One thing I’ll say is I haven’t seen very many trespass charges like this before,” Tyler said.
White, who has been suspended indefinitely while his legal matters are being sorted out, began practicing with the team again this week. White was also on the bench for the first time this season during Saturday’s home loss to Michigan State University.
The University released a statement Friday saying that White’s status with the team has not changed. White is allowed to practice, but cannot compete or travel with the team.
The Gophers are also without starting point guard Al Nolen, who has been ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA. The University is appealing the ruling, but it is unclear if and when he could be reinstated.
Nolen’s ineligibility became effective last Tuesday, the first day of spring semester.
“Anytime you lose someone on your team, it affects the chemistry of the team,” junior guard Blake Hoffarber said.
Nolen leads the Big Ten in steals per game with 2.4 and is averaging 6.7 points and 4.7 assists per game.
Head coach Tubby Smith did not strike a sympathetic tone Friday morning when discussing Nolen’s “academic deficiencies.”
“When I knew [Nolen was having academic issues] it doesn’t matter. He’s the one going to school. He’s the one getting an education,” Smith said. “It’s like I heard a coach say a long time ago, you want everybody to get a degree. I can’t get it for them. They’ve got to do it themselves.
“Unfortunately, when you get to be a junior you’d think you’d understand that.”
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