Five football players from Illinois-based Wheaton College, including two from Michigan and another who’s the son of a popular former Lion, have been suspended amid an 18-month hazing investigation.
According to a Chicago Tribune report Wednesday morning, the suspended players are: linebacker Samuel TeBos of Allendale, Mich.; offensive lineman Kyle Kregel of Grand Rapids; defensive lineman Noah Spielman of Columbus, Ohio, and the son of longtime Lions linebacker Chris Spielman; offensive lineman Benjamin Pettway of Georgia; and defensive lineman James Cooksey of Florida.
As of early Wednesday evening, all the players remained listed on the team’s roster on the school’s athletics website.
A school spokesperson told The News the players have been deemed inactive by the school and the coaching staff.
Additionally, the spokesperson sent a statement to The News from Wheaton, which read, in part:
“We are deeply troubled by the allegations brought by law enforcement against five members of our football team. When this incident was brought to our attention by other members of the football team and coaching staff in March 2016, the College took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation. Our internal investigation into the incident, and our engagement with an independent, third-party investigator retained by the College, resulted in a range of corrective actions. We are unable to share details on these disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections.”
The Tribune reported the players were notified of the charges Monday. The Tribune also reported the initial punishment, from the school — a Christian, liberal-arts school in the Chicago suburbs — was 50 hours of community service and an eight-page essay “reflecting on their behavior.”
According to the Tribune, Kregel and Spielman turned themselves in Tuesday and posted bail. The other three are expected to turn themselves in by the end of the week, according to the report.
Kregel’s lawyer, Christine Field, told the Tribune, “There’s always more to the story,” while declining further comment.
TeBos and Kregel both are seniors, and were three-year varsity starters in high school — TeBos at Allendale High, Kregel at Forest Hills Eastern in the Grand Rapids area. TeBos also played basketball and baseball in high school, Kregel also played baseball, rugby and wrestling. Both Michigan natives took multiple mission trips prior to arriving at Wheaton.
The felony charges, the Tribune reported, are aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint stemming from an incident last year allegedly involving a then-freshman teammate, who told authorities he was bound by duct tape, battered, sodomized and then dumped, partially clothed, on a baseball field. The attackers allegedly took his cell phone. The teammate, who has left the school, received medical attention and suffered torn labrums in both shoulders.
If convicted, the five players could face more than a year in jail.
The Tribune reported a second player was allegedly targeted, but has not pressed charges and remains on the roster. Neither victim has been publicly identified.
Three of the five players who’ve now been suspended played in the team’s most recent game this past weekend, including Kregel and Spielman. Wheaton (3-0) is No. 4 in the nation in rankings by the American Football Coaches Association. It made the Division III quarterfinals last season.