By Phil Bergman
Four Missouri student athletes are suspended after getting arrested over the weekend. Freshman basketball players Wes Clark and Shane Rector, and football players Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert were arrested late Saturday night on suspicion of possession 35 grams or less of marijuana.
The arrests follow a string of Tiger run-ins with the law and suspensions recently. Last week, senior forward Tony Criswell did not travel to Atlanta for the SEC tournament after failing to pay around $2,700 in back rent and $823 in attorney fees. As well, this past January wide receivers Levi Copelin and Dorial Green-Beckham were arrested for disturbing the peace and for suspicion of drug activity respectively, though no charges were ever filed against Green-Beckham.
According to Columbia Police Department spokesperson Latisha Stroer, the four freshmen were driving in downtown Columbia when they were pulled over.
“Around 11:32 p.m. an officer conducted a traffic stop in the area of 501 E Broadway, which is the Commerce Bank parking lot,” Stroer said. “When the officer went to approach the vehicle there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.”
The arrests come days before the Tigers basketball team takes on Davidson in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.
In an email to KBIA, Athletic Department Spokesperson Chad Moller said “per athletic policy, all of the individuals were suspended indefinitely upon learning about the incident, and their status with their respective teams is to be determined, pending an internal review.”
Although currently suspended, it is not clear whether Clark or Rector will suit up for the contest.
Clark has been averaging 4.1 points and 2.1 assists in 20.4 minutes per game off the bench for Missouri, while Rectors has totaled ten points and three assists in 22 games this season.
Penton, a cornerback from St. Louis, registered 16 tackles and one interception as a true freshman last season. He is currently competing for the starting spot in spring practices. Rupert, a free safety, redshirted last season and is listed third on the depth chart.