March 16, 1998

The News & Observer

Football players' trial set


CHAPEL HILL -- Seven North Carolina football players accustomed to teaming up on the gridiron
are due in court today on charges of ganging up on a fellow student in a brawl outside a Chapel Hill

The case, scheduled for trial in Orange County District Court, may finally clear up what happened
in the melee at 2:30 a.m. Dec. 5 outside Gotham, an East Franklin Street club.

Police were not called to the fight, which broke out after a private fraternity party, and did not
investigate. Charges were filed after the injured student went to a magistrate to swear out

With official details sketchy, the trial likely will come down to a judge attempting to sort out
conflicting accounts of the incident from witnesses on opposing sides of the matter, some of whom
had been drinking.

"I am optimistic these cases will be resolved one way or the other Monday," Orange-Chatham
District Attorney Carl Fox said Friday, declining further comment.

In statements to the magistrate, freshman David Beyer, 18, accused the football players of
punching or kicking him, or both. He said his cheekbone was broken and his ribs were bruised.

Reserve defensive tackle Ricco McCain, 22, was arrested on a charge of assault inflicting serious
injury, a misdemeanor. Defensive starters Kivuusama Mays, Greg Williams and Robert Williams
and reserves Greg Harris, Stephon McQueen and Varian Ballard were each charged with one
count of simple assault, a less serious class of misdemeanor than McCain faces.

With no police report to go on, UNC athletics officials conducted their own investigation,
interviewing the players and several people they said were independent witnesses. Officials
confirmed that all seven football players were at the scene.

Athletics Director Dick Baddour cleared six players to take part in the team's final game, the Gator
Bowl on Jan. 1. McCain was suspended indefinitely from all football-related activities, including the
bowl game. His status is to be re-evaluated in the spring.

Baddour said then that he had found no reason to suspend the remaining six players. He said they
"adamantly" denied any role in the alleged assault.

A first-time offender convicted of simple assault would not face jail time, but could receive a
suspended sentence of up to 30 days plus community service and a fine.

Beyer and his attorney could not be reached for comment. McCain's attorney declined to

In past interviews, Beyer and McCain both have said they were attempting to stop the fracas when
they got involved.

Beyer has said that he was injured while trying to break up a fight between Harris and another
man. When he tried to walk away, he said, he was shoved from behind, then decked by a punch.
Beyer said his head was slammed into the side of a parked car.

"I was strung up and kicked around," Beyer said. "It was not pretty."

McCain has said that he became involved when he saw two groups of people arguing in the parking
lot outside Gotham. He said he was punched as he tried to break up the altercation, then hit the
first person he saw.

Defense attorneys said they expect the case, continued on past court dates, to go to trial today.
With five lawyers representing the seven athletes, however, a last-minute scheduling conflict could
postpone the case again, they said.