NEW BRITAIN – Two disciplined Central Connecticut State University football players were suspended from school athletics indefinitely Wednesday morning pending an investigation into their behavior.
Wide receivers Chika Chukwu, 20, of Glastonbury, and Jose Garcia, 21 of New London, were already required to sit out Saturday’s game in Youngstown, Ohio after their arrest with their three roommates on charges the five allowed up to 200 kids to attend a party at their 64 Roxbury Road address Saturday night.
Wednesday morning university officials suspended the two from playing sports indefinitely after interviewing the pair, University spokesman Mark McLaughlin said. University officials received a report Tuesday night from a neighbor that Chukwu and Garcia threatened to sue her for calling police during the party after they were told they couldn’t play in Saturday’s game.
“I am very concerned about this matter,” CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro said. “Our New Britain community is very important to us and we want to be sure students understand their duties to their neighbors and the community.”
The two students are not suspended from attending classes.
Chukwu and Garcia were charged with breach of peace and permitting a minor to possess alcohol along with their roommates, linebackers Randall Laguerre, 21, of 64 Roxbury Road and Kenneth Keen, 21, of the same address and Luke Ocasio, 22, of Wethersfield, a former member of the team, after New Britain police broke up a large party at their home Saturday night.
The four football players were suspended from playing Saturday’s game and were required to do 10 hours of community service and attend alcohol awareness classes at the university. Their criminal court cases are pending.
Chukwu and Garcia confronted a neighbor Tuesday evening saying they would sue her for calling police about the party, sources said. The university had a police cruiser stationed outside the neighbor’s overnight, McLaughlin said.
“We wanted to be sure everyone was aware we are looking for people to be on their best behavior,” he said.
A CCSU police cruiser drove past 64 Roxbury St. Wednesday afternoon as a city building official was asking about the number of people who were living in the rented house. The players declined to talk about the latest suspensions.
The players living in the house are good kids, said Veronica Santacroce who lives across the street. “They were respectful from the time they moved in” just before the semester started, she said. “They are great kids, but I think they made a mistake,” she added after learning that police had broken up two parties in the past two weeks at the home that each had more than 100 guests. “I’d hate to see this ruin their sports or their lives.”
Garcia and two other had received tickets Sept. 2 after officers broke up a party at the house with at least 140 attendees, police reports said A week later, dispatchers received four calls from neighbors saying dozens of kids were partying at the house and there was a “bouncer” directing students were to go in the road.
New Britain police officers arrived to find between 100 and 200 students partying in the basement and other locations on the property. Some members of the football team were “confrontational” with officers as they were trying to determine the address of a man who said he lived at the address but actually didn’t.
The neighborhoods surrounding the campus have been plagued with roving packs of students and large parties for years. New Britain police spent $27,421 in overtime during the 2017 fiscal year from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 to have extra officers on patrol near the campus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights while school is in session. As of Aug. 15, New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell has spent $6,970 on overtime for the extra manpower to deal with CCSU, according to figures provided by the department.
The university is now promising that they will do a better job turning their students into good community members, McLaughlin said. “This is an institution that is committed to our community,” he said. “We believe New Britain is our town. Part of our educational goal for students is to educate them on being good neighbors, on being civil, on being good citizens and on being a good person on campus and off campus.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.