Second-year Ball State football coach Pete Lembo has spent the past 20 months on a public relations quest to exhibit all that is good within the Cardinal program. One of his players is creating obstacles for his coach in that regard.
Ball State junior defensive end Jonathan Newsome was arrested early Monday on a preliminary charge of possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum one-year jail term.
In light of the arrest, Lembo suspended Newsome for the initial two games of this season.
“Any time that there are drugs involved, I think that it is really important to send a message to your team that type of behavior isn't going to be tolerated,” Lembo said.
Lembo explained that Newsome had “positive qualities” and had “come a long ways in some areas.” However, the Muncie StarPress reported on Thursday that Monday's arrest wasn't his first run-in with the law since he transferred from Ohio State prior to the 2011 season
Newsome's vehicle, which included three other passengers that were not charged, was pulled over after failing to signal and the officer discovered “a green plant material” in his wallet. The officer also learned that the Jeep's license plate had expired, as well as a warrant was outstanding for Newsome.
Newsome was held on that warrant, which was issued in February, after he failed to show up for an initial hearing on a conversion charge that had been filed last December.
He was released from the Delaware County jail on Monday after posting a $2,500 bond, and agreeing to appear at a hearing on the City Court case now set for next Monday.
According to the StarPress, the conversion charge was related to a shoplifting incident that involved Newsome and Cardinal junior running back Toney Williams stealing male enhancement pills.
Despite the incidents, Lembo was confident that Newsome would learn from the situations and defended his disciplinary decision.
“Jonathan is certainly not perfect, as this incident indicates” Lembo said. “But I have not given up hope by any means that he can grow and mature and become a positive guy in our program.”
Lembo said that redshirt freshman Michael Ayres would likely replace Newsome in the lineup, and would rotate with two other defensive ends (sophomore Nick Miles and redshirt freshman Keenan Noel) to fill the two positions.
The coach did not rely on the recently created “Leadership Council,” which meets weekly to discuss issues and make decisions that affect the program overall. However, Lembo was clear that his decision was made with the support of the players.
“I don't think that there is any question that Jonathan's teammates have not given up hope on him being a positive contributor,” Lembo said.