Just last week, Penn State coach Joe Paterno told the media that defensive tackle Chris Baker and linebacker Navorro Bowman would travel with the team to San Antonio, site of the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl game against Texas A & M.
But that was before felony assault charges were refiled against Baker and Bowman by Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira, 2 weeks after a judge dismissed the same charges at a preliminary hearing. The two were arraigned yesterday.
Jeff Nelson, Penn State's assistant athletic director for communications, said that as of yesterday afternoon Paterno had not advised him of any change in the players' status.
"Coach said he would take [Baker and Bowman] to the bowl site," Nelson said. "He did not say anything about whether they would play or not. I'm not at liberty to say whether anything is different now because I just don't know."
Baker, 20, a redshirt sophomore from Windsor, Conn., and Bowman, 19, a redshirt freshman from District Heights, Md., were arraigned on Wednesday's refiled charges at the Centre County Government Courthouse in Bellefonte.
District Judge Carmine Prestia dismissed the charges of felony aggravated assault against Baker and Bowman on Dec. 5, but ordered them to stand trial on misdemeanor charges stemming from an Oct. 7 altercation at the Hetzel Union Building in which another student, Varney Capehart, alleged he was punched, stomped and kicked. Capehart, who sustained a bloody nose and lip, identified Baker and Bowman from pictures in the football media directory.
Madeira argued that Prestia should not have dropped the felony charges, and his office filed a motion Wednesday asking for a new judge to be assigned to the case.
After they were originally charged, Baker, Bowman and redshirt sophomore cornerback Knowledge Timmons did not travel to East Lansing, Mich., for the regular-season finale against Michigan State. Timmons received a summons by mail for misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and defiant trespass.
Baker, who started seven games this season and had 4 1/2 sacks, also was awaiting trial on charges for a separate fight at an off-campus apartment on April 1. Penn State placed Baker on school probation.
Attorney Karen Muir, who represents Baker, said Madeira's office was "selectively prosecuting" her client and Bowman, while not prosecuting other individuals who may have taken part in the assault.