Police in Madison, Wi. have arrested three suspects in the assault on Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.
Wendell J. Venerable, Deonte J. Wilson, and Robert A. Wilks were taken into custody on Tuesday, Aug. 28, on tentative charges of party to a crime – substantial battery. Formal charges have not yet been filed. The three 21-year-olds are students at the University of Wisconsin.
The unprovoked attack occurred around 2:15 a.m. on Aug. 1 when Ball was walking near the Madison campus. The Heisman Trophy finalist suffered a bruised jaw and a concussion that caused him to miss the beginning of preseason football camp.
Police believe the attack was linked to a fight at a house party on July 27. The incident is still under investigation, but the fight reportedly involved UW students, football players, and others. One person went to the hospital to receive treatment for injuries but did not file a report with the police department.
Ball was at the party, along with 15-20 Badgers’ players, but he has maintained that he was not part of the fight. Police have found no evidence that Ball was involved.
During an appearance on Jim Rome‘s radio show, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said he was aware that two UW football players – but not Ball – were involved in the incident at the party.
“Something briefly went down but it didn’t involve Montee in any way. Two of my other players were involved and I’ve taken actions with them,” Bielema said.
The coach declined to give any information about the players’ identities or to specify what discipline they received.
A statement from the Madison police department said that charges could still be pursued in relation to the fight. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the players involved in the fight would likely only receive citations for disorderly conduct, according to a source.
For his part, Ball is ready to put the attack behind him and play football.
“It is most definitely behind me,” he said.
“There is nothing I can do about it. I’m just going to use the energy from it and use the anger I had from it and channel it onto the field,” Ball told reporters.
As a junior last season, Ball tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA record of 39 touchdowns. He had 1,923 rushing yards and 2,229 total yards and is one of the nation’s top running backs heading into his senior year.