Vanderbilt coach James Franklin would prefer to dicuss the Commodores’ matchup Saturday against rival Tennessee.
Instead, after practice on Wednesday night, he talked about a legal incident involving one of his players.
Sophomore safety Andre Simmons was suspended indefinitely after he was charged with felony counts of especially aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery on Tuesday.
“We are always going to make sure we represent this university the right way,” Franklin said. “If not, you won’t be a part of the program. We’re never going to do anything to jeopardize the reputation of this university.
"Besides that we’ll wait until the investigation is done to comment.”
According to a Davidson County affidavit, on Tuesday two black males — one armed with a handgun — entered the Lupton Hall room of Vanderbilt sophomore Zachary Abelman, who plays on the school’s club ice hockey team. They told Abelman to open his safe and took approximately $5,000 from it.
A fight unfolded and Abelman was struck on the head with the handgun. One suspect, who has not been identified or arrested, left the room while Simmons, a sophomore, stayed behind to keep Abelman in the room. Simmons then fled the room but Abelman and others chased after him, calling the police. Simmons was chased into Terrace Place Garage, where he started running again before being taken into custody by the police.
“I pray for him and his family. I hope he is OK,” safety Javon Marshall said. “He is a teammate. He is part of our team. We always will miss him. It is a hard time right now.”
When reached by phone on Wednesday, Abelman declined to comment and would not say if he knew Simmons or the other suspect.
Simmons is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. The 19-year-old from Lorton, Va., has played in just one game, contributing on special teams early in the season.
“I talk to the team every day about issues that are happening all over the country,” Franklin said. “If I see something that happened at any university in the country, I put it up on the power point and we talk about making great choices every single day. I don’t know if there is a coach in the country that talks about making good choices as much as I do.”