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UM's Washington Granted Release


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Split decisions for Hurricanes

 

BY SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN AND MANNY NAVARRO

 

sdegnan@herald.com

 

 

University of Miami star cornerback Antrel Rolle was exonerated Monday of any wrongdoing in a criminal case stemming from a July 11 arrest after the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office chose not to file charges.

 

Rolle, regarded as one of the best defensive backs in the country, was immediately reinstated to the team. But just a few hours later, UM announced that Parade All-American running back Bobby Washington of Miami Killian High will be granted his release from the letter-of-intent he signed in February.

 

Washington's predicament, The Herald learned from Killian coach Billy Rolle, stems from UM-generated concern about Washington's ACT test score, though Rolle said Washington has been cleared by the NCAA. As of Monday night, his release was not yet finalized.

 

''Bobby and his parents came to us and sought to be released from his letter-of-intent, and we are in the process of granting that release,'' UM coach Admin Coker said in a written statement. ``We wish Bobby tremendous success wherever he may go.''

 

Washington rushed for 2,132 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior and was rated the No. 3 high school running back in the country this past season by Rivals.com. He could not be reached for comment.

 

Antrel Rolle, who wore a suit and wore a serious expression during a hearing that lasted less than a minute, also declined comment. But his mother, Armelia Rolle, said he was relieved and happy.

 

''Antrel is in very good spirits. He's just anxious for this to be over,'' said Armelia, a Homestead Senior High guidance counselor. She came to court with husband Al Rolle -- the police chief of Homestead -- and other family members.

 

''We're not going to get into cop bashing here,'' Armelia said. ``We have a very high level of respect for law enforcement officers. They have to make a split-second judgment call on what they think they're seeing, and sometimes errors are made. We're not interested in trying to drag these officers in the mud. There's not going to be any kind of lawsuit.''

 

Of her husband, she said, ``He is a father first, chief of police second. He is in a very, very fragile position in that he could not try to use his position to ask for any favors.''

 

Rolle, a senior, has no prior arrests, and neither alcohol nor drugs was a factor in the incident, according to prosecutor Michael Grieco. Miami police charged him in the Coconut Grove arrest with felony battery on a law enforcement officer and with two misdemeanors -- resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct.

 

REPORT ON ROLLE

 

The police report stated that Rolle was involved in fights in the streets of Coconut Grove at about 4 a.m. July 11. Rolle complained of someone pounding his vehicle's window. The report said Rolle began to curse and ''get aggressive in his demeanor'' toward the officers.

 

Armelia Rolle said she was appreciative of Grieco's ''very professional and thorough investigation,'' but was adamant that her son did not return to the original scene of the altercation and that ``there was never a fight in the street.

 

``Antrel handled it calmly the first time the guy hit the car, and the second time the guy hit the car he handled it calmly. A lot of people would have gotten out of their car throwing fits.''

 

Grieco said Rolle wrote and delivered to the prosecutor a two-page, typed letter about his life and his experience as a police officer's son and as the brother of two Miami-Dade School Board police officers. Rolle also spent late Friday night and early Saturday ''in a police ride-along during active nightlife hours to better appreciate what patrol officers go through during these times,'' Grieco said.

 

Added Grieco in a prepared statement: ``The officer/victim was uninjured and along with the arresting officer and the Miami Police Department he expressed his desire to defer to my filing decision. . . . If anything, the contact between Mr. Rolle and the officer involved was merely incidental. I got the feeling [Rolle] was taking this very seriously and it seemed like it was treated as a learning experience.''

 

SCORE QUESTIONED

 

Regarding Washington, Billy Rolle (no relation to Antrel) said the UM's admissions office had questioned Washington's improved ACT score. Rolle said Washington, who like current UM running back Frank Gore was a learning-disabled student in high school, had scored a 24 on his most recent ACT attempt in February -- a significant jump from his previous score.

 

''I know somebody at UM was accusing Bobby of having somebody take the exam for him,'' Rolle said. ``But there's no way that was possible. We went through the same channels all the other LD students do. Even the people who administered the test confirmed Bobby had taken it.''

 

Rolle said Washington's parents were disappointed when the school asked him to retake the exam, eventually leading them to ask for his release during a meeting Monday. But late Monday, Rolle said Washington's parents had subsequently talked to UM coaches and were planning on waiting 48 hours to let the situation unfold.

 

Washington's mother, Leslie Washington, told The Herald on Sunday her son had qualified for admission but that UM officials said they needed to meet with her Monday. She said she didn't understand why.

 

She was unavailable Monday.

 

''Obviously, the kid is disappointed. He has wanted to be a Hurricane his whole life,'' Rolle said. ``But I don't think it's over yet.''

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