Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese were arrested by South Bend police after an off-campus party was broken up just after midnight. Calabrese, who is 21, faces disorderly conduct charges, and has been bonded out of jail for $150. Rees, who is only 20, faces more serious charges, including public intoxication, resisting law enforcement, minor consumption, and battery to an officer, which is a felony charge.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rees ran from the scene of the party, and was taken to the ground by a police officer. Rees allegedly kneed the officer in the stomach, leading to the felony charge, before he was pepper sprayed. Calabrese argued loudly with police, unwilling to stay on a sidewalk while he watched his friend arrested, leading to his arrest.
Wednesday marked the final day of classes at Notre Dame. The late night arrest also marks another offseason storyline that’ll likely loom large until the Irish head to Dublin. For Calabrese, the stakes aren’t likely as high, and you can expect him back in an Irish uniform on opening day. But for Rees, the Irish’s starting quarterback whose job is already under fire after an open competition this spring, the future isn’t as clear, especially with a felony charge looming. (A felony charge that might not last until 1 p.m. ET, when Rees is formally arraigned.)
The rush to define this story is already in full swing, with news leaking late last night and an avalanche of information already taking over social media and the college football web-world today. (Adam Jacobi, a well-respected writer now working at the Bleacher Report has already taken the reins on the “Expel Tommy Rees or Notre Dame has lost its principles story,” with his original source being an anonymous message board poster.)
Even with the most serious charge dropped, it was a bone-headed decision by Rees, choosing to run when South Bend police arrived at a party because of a noise complaint. With early reports of Rees kicking a police office turning into a potentially accidental knee to the abdomen, the early rumors of what happened have quickly turned into something far less sensational. “It wasn’t terribly violent, but it was enough to be considered resisting,” South Bend police Captain Phil Trent told the Chicago Tribune, while also saying that a police office “had the wind knocked out of him” while trying to stop the group running away.
The arrest of two Notre Dame football players at an off-campus party is certainly newsworthy, but you can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be like if the player facing the most serious charges wasn’t the quarterback almost universally reviled by a fan base that’s put last season’s disappointment almost squarely on his shoulders. People will immediately look at Michael Floyd‘s DUI arrest as the easiest comparison for the Rees case, but if you’re looking for precedent, look back two off seasons to tight end Mike Ragone‘s arrest on the Indiana Toll Road for marijuana possession. Ragone, leaving South Bend after the spring semester ended, was arrested and booked for possession, an incident that had many thinking it was the end of the road for the star-crossed tight end.
At the time, the response out of South Bend was this: “Coach Kelly is aware of the situation and feels it is a serious matter,” Notre Dame’s Brian Hardin said. “He has spoken with Mike, but any team-related action that may be forthcoming would be handled internally.”
Today, Notre Dame also released a statement after the arrests of Calabrese and Rees:
“The University is aware of this incident and is confident that it will be handled in a prompt and professional manner through the criminal justice system. Internal discipline is handled privately in accord with our own policies and federal law.”
It’s clear there’ll be internal discipline from Notre Dame, both from the University and the football program. If Rees’ felony stays in play, there’s also a real chance that he’s played his last down for the Irish. While it may be fun to be first, or to have the strongest opinion, incidents like this often take more than a few hours to play out. And if we’ve learned anything in these two years since Brian Kelly took over the football program, they rarely play out in public.
We know for sure Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese made a bad decision last night. What comes next, we’ll have to wait and see.
UPDATED: 3:06 p.m. ET — Head coach Brian Kelly has released a statement through Notre Dame:
“I am aware of last night’s incident involving two of our football players. I am of course very concerned given the nature of the allegations, but I am still gathering information. I’ll withhold judgment until I can collect all the facts and speak with both Carlo and Tommy.”
SECOND UPDATE — Rees was released on $250 bond and felony charges have been dropped. He still faces four misdemeanor charges.