Football players receive sentencing stemming from October incident

Six Nicholls State University football players involved in a disturbance at a Thibodaux nightclub last October have enrolled in court programs for the rehabilitation of first-time non-violent offenders.

“I think that what happened back in October is something that is rare,” Rob Bernardi, athletics director, said. “We can look back in time and see that student-athletes being involved in disruptive behavior, either on campus or in the community, is something that is very rare.”

The city’s pre-trial diversion program ranges from 30 days to two years according to the severity of the offense. It consists of an unsupervised probation offered to offenders with no previous criminal records, which includes community service, a fine and sometimes counseling. The program is an opportunity for student-athletes Darryl Watson II, Jarrell Rogers, Jeremiah Thomas, Jonah Austin, Terry Lucas Jr. and Zack Edgens to clear their records of all charges pressed against them during the incident in exchange for good behavior.

“This is a diversion program that is offered by the district attorney’s office for any person in a similar situation,” Bernardi said. “The students were offered to participate in the program because it was deemed that their behavior was a lapse of judgment.”
According to Bernardi, Nicholls football head coach Tim Rebowe also disciplined the students internally.

“We expect our students to behave themselves and to project a positive image in the community,” Bernardi said, “but there is a difference between punishing and disciplining them. I think that the students were disciplined appropriately, not only by coach Rebowe, but by the district attorney.”

Nicholls Athletics department has 330 students altogether. According to Bernardi, the Colonels are involved in campus activities and are also active in the community. Last year alone, the majority of Nicholls athletes participated in community service at churches, business and schools, summing up to 150 hours.

“That incident is certainly not representative of our students or our athletic program,” Bernardi said. “We take great pride in the quality of our students, not only academically, but as athletes. I think that they overwhelmingly represent the University and the department very positively.”

The disturbance happened after Atlee Tenpenny, the former Colonels running back, discharged a single gunshot downtown on Oct. 18 with a gun he purchased from his teammate Kaleb Kador on Oct. 2, according to the police reports.
The six students enrolled in the program were all cited on charges of remaining after being forbidden. Thomas was also cited on charges for disturbing the peace and Edgens was also charged for attempting to escape and resisting an officer after his arrest.

Tenpenny was charged with illegal use of weapons, illegal carrying of weapons and obstructing public passages. He was also suspended from the football team and forbidden to reside on campus following the incident. The University allowed Tenpenny to give continuity to his academic semester, but he decided to withdraw. Tenpenny, 20, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, died in a single car accident in Mississippi on Oct. 21.
Kador was charged with the possession of a gun in a firearm-free zone after pleading guilty on Nov. 23. Initially, he was sentenced to five months in jail, but had his sentence suspended in exchange of a one-year probation, 80 hours of community service, a $250 fine and the covering of the court costs. Kador also received a disciplinary summons from the University for violating the student code of conduct rules regarding the possession of weapons on campus.

Rebowe declared to have no further comments about the story when contacted by The Nicholls Worth.