White charged with trespassing, Nolen ineligible

An investigation into a stolen laptop led to Royce White’s misdemeanor charges.

by Michael Rietmulder

MenâÄôs 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. WhiteâÄôs attorney F. Clayton Tyler said a court date has been set for Feb. 1. âÄúAnytime youâÄôre charged with something I think that itâÄôs a serious matter, but obviously this is certainly a lot better than a felony theft charge,âÄù 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, âÄúHey, IâÄôm Royce. Do you know who I am?âÄù The group exited the room after being asked to leave by the witness, according to the complaint. The witnessâÄô friend, who was also in the room, said in the complaint that she saw the same group âÄútrying door handlesâÄù in the hallway. Another witness said White and a friend opened her door, entered and stayed for roughly one minute asking questions about âÄúwhere the party was at,âÄù according to the complaint. The witness said that White left after realizing his presence was unwelcomed. Another resident told investigators a similar story. âÄúThe truth of the matter is, what theyâÄôve charged Royce with, darn near any freshman at the University of Minnesota could be charged with,âÄù 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. âÄúThere isnâÄôt enough evidence at this point to charge [White] with the burglary [or] theft,âÄù 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 WhiteâÄôs probation since the incident took place before the courtâÄôs ruling. Tyler praised University policeâÄôs thoroughness in the investigation and said they were in a tough position because they donâÄôt want to appear as being too lenient on athletes. With WhiteâÄôs campus-celebrity status, Tyler said he is unsure whether WhiteâÄôs case may have been handled differently. âÄúOne thing IâÄôll say is I havenâÄôt seen very many trespass charges like this before,âÄù 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 SaturdayâÄôs home loss to Michigan State University. The University released a statement Friday saying that WhiteâÄôs status with the team has not changed. White is allowed to practice, but cannot compete or travel with the team. Nolen ineligible 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. NolenâÄôs ineligibility became effective last Tuesday, the first day of spring semester. âÄúAnytime you lose someone on your team, it affects the chemistry of the team,âÄù 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 NolenâÄôs âÄúacademic deficiencies.âÄù âÄúWhen I knew [Nolen was having academic issues] it doesnâÄôt matter. HeâÄôs the one going to school. HeâÄôs the one getting an education,âÄù Smith said. âÄúItâÄôs like I heard a coach say a long time ago, you want everybody to get a degree. I canâÄôt get it for them. TheyâÄôve got to do it themselves. âÄúUnfortunately, when you get to be a junior youâÄôd think youâÄôd understand that.âÄù