Once again it was practice time for the Matadors and once again two of their teammates weren’t on The Matadome’s wooden floor. That will not go on for much longer … as far as practice is concerned.
However, if anyone was expecting senior guard, leading scorer Deon Tresvant or freshman reserve Dallas Rutherford, who have each been charged with a count of second-degree commercial burglary and grand theft over $400 for allegedly checking out items from a Porter Ranch Best Buy without paying for them on New Year’s Day, to step on a Big West Conference basketball floor wearing an outfit with the word “Northridge” stamped across it on a game day, Head Coach Bobby Braswell had some bad (but widely-expected) news for them during a press conference Thursday at CSUN.
“The student athletes (Tresvant and Rutherford) will be withheld from competition until these issues are clarified,” Braswell said in a prepared statement.
Both players, who might have made the worst decision of their lives by going to a Best Buy, are scheduled to appear at San Fernando Superior Court on Jan. 26. Unless the case takes an unexpected twist in the coming days (something that’s always a possibility), that will be the earliest date at which these “issues” will be clarified. That means that, despite being allowed to return to practice with the team in the coming days, the two players will miss (at least) the team’s next four games (at UC Riverside, 01/14; at Long Beach State 01/17; vs. Cal State Fullerton 01/21; and vs. UC Irvine 01/24).
That seemed to be the least of Braswell’s worries, though. His son, Jeffrey Braswell, a CSUN student, allegedly was also involved in the incident and is facing even more charges than his players. The younger Braswell, who as of the date of the alleged incident was a worker at Best Buy, has been said to have used the password of an employee who had the day off to allow Tresvant and Rutherford – along with a fourth person, actor Phannuel Gbewonyo, 28 – to take over $6,600 worth of stuff from the store.
Braswell, who said university administration had been “wonderful” and had provided support throughout, did not get into specifics regarding conversations he had with any of the people involved in the matter, but made it known that he remained supportive of his son, Tresvant and Rutherford. The latter’s father, Dudley Rutherford, is the minister of the church the coach belongs to.
“The more we thought about it, what these guys need is support from their teammates,” Braswell said.
One of their teammates, starting forward Willie Galick, was there to speak on behalf of the team. Unlike Braswell, who remained impenetrable throughout the round of questions, Galick offered a comment on his personal feelings regarding the allegations. He echoed Braswell’s feeling of support, calling the two team members “brothers,” but said that what happened with Tresvant and Rutherford was a “lapse in judgment.”
“Temptation was there. They took it,” Galick said. “They will learn from it.”
Something not everyone at CSUN knew, and not that there should be anything wrong with it, was that the younger Braswell attended the school and was personal friends with some players on the men’s basketball squad, Galick said. According to the forward, Rutherford grew up with Braswell. Galick wouldn’t comment on who else had this kind of friendship with the coach’s son, though.
“We all know (Jeffrey Braswell) but, mainly, a select few hang out with him outside of basketball,” he said.
The head coach, who waited three days to bail out his son (he was arrested Jan. 3), said he didn’t free him right away because he had “fulfilled a promise” to his children by doing that. He felt he was doing what was best for his family at the time. His son wasn’t surprised by his actions, he said.
While Braswell acknowledged that he indeed had strong feelings on the situation, he said he’d hold out on them at least until the investigation was at a more advanced stage. And while people might be looking at his tenure as a coach with a different eye, Braswell isn’t too worried about it.
“All I can do is: live the life that I’ve tried to live and be the man I’ve tried to be. People are always going to have opinions, but I don’t worry about that. My concern is doing what’s right.”
All that’s clear for now is that the CSUN basketball program will support Tresvant, Rutherford and Jeffrey Braswell throughout the legal process and that the two Matadors will go back to practice in the next few days and to classes once the semester starts. Northridge (5-8, 2-1 BWC) plays at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 29, which – as of Thursday and according to Braswell’s statements – is the earliest the team could get these players back.