Paterno suspends three in drug case

Maurice Evans, Abe Koroma and Andrew Quarless have been linked to a marijuana investigation.

Posted: September 05, 2008

Just when it seemed Penn State football was out of the eye of the storm, its players and its iconic coach have been pulled back into the maelstrom.

Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno said last night that defensive end Maurice Evans, defensive tackle Abe Koroma, and tight end Andrew Quarless would not play tomorrow against Oregon State after they were linked to a marijuana investigation at their campus apartment Tuesday night.

Evans is an all-American candidate, and Koroma is also a starter.

Paterno also said on his weekly radio show, Nittany Lion Hotline, that reserve cornerback Willie Harriott had been kicked off the team, apparently for an unrelated issue.

Cornerback and kick returner A.J. Wallace, who lives with Evans, Koroma and Quarless, was exonerated by the coach and will play tomorrow.

The 81-year-old coach said he would decide on the suspended players' futures when he "gets all the information." That could take time. University police are continuing an investigation that could take more than two weeks, according to Capt. Bill Moerschbacher.

"It's unfortunate," Paterno said. "We preach, preach, preach and they stepped out of the line, and they deserve what they're going to get. Whatever that's going to be, I don't know."

Moerschbacher said yesterday that marijuana seized from the players' Nittany Apartment residence - which he estimated was less than two grams - had been sent to a lab that tests for controlled substances. It could take a few weeks to get the results, he said.

"We expect charges to be filed," Moerschbacher said, "but I can't begin to guess when that may occur."

Penn State's Office of Judicial Affairs generally does not conduct its own investigation until charges have been filed. A message left with Lisa Powers, the university's director of public information, was not returned last night.

One way for Paterno to bypass the police and university protocol is to have the team administer a drug test of its own. Penn State randomly tests its players, according to Guido D'Elia, the team's director of football branding.

Still, it was not clear if any of the players would be charged. Moerschbacher said he could not release the names of any apparent suspects. On Tuesday, police said they arrived at Apartment 5204 at 10:19 p.m. in response to a complaint of loud music. The odor of burning marijuana was detected, according to the police log. Police said they asked to enter, were denied, and sought a search warrant.

About 40 minutes later, the warrant was executed and a "small amount" of marijuana was seized, police said. Quarless and Wallace were inside the apartment, but Evans and Koroma were not, police said.

According to a team source, however, Evans and Koroma were punished, along with Quarless, because marijuana "residue" was found in their bedrooms. Nothing was found in Wallace's room, the source said.

Evans and Koroma have avoided trouble since arriving at State College two years ago. Quarless, a junior reserve, was suspended in March after he was charged with driving under the influence, but was recently welcomed back to the team.

Harriott, who previously had been cited for underage drinking and convicted of driving under the influence, is the fourth player to be dismissed from the team since April. Wide receiver Chris Bell was dismissed after he threatened a teammate with a knife in April, and defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phil Taylor - both suspended at the time for their involvement in fights - were cut in July.

Their dismissals came just two days after ESPN's Outside the Lines broadcast a July 27 segment detailing Penn State's spate of recent run-ins with the law. Since 2002, the investigation revealed, 46 Lions had been charged with 163 criminal counts, with 27 players having been convicted of 45 crimes.

As for Saturday's game, the 19th-ranked Lions will likely replace Evans with Aaron Maybin and Koroma with Jared Odrick. Quarless was expected to eventually earn back his starting spot.

"All three [are] good football players," Paterno said. "They're not bad kids, but they did a dumb thing, and you pay for it when you do dumb things."


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

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