Former Central Michigan running back Austin White was sentenced to a one-year probation and more than $2,000 in fines and court costs Friday following his April arrest on campus.
White, with his attorney Mary Chartier by his side in Isabella County Trial Court Friday afternoon, issued an apology to judge Paul Chamberlain, taking “full responsibility” for his actions.
“I have no excuse for my actions,” White said, reading from a prepared statement. “But, like I have been told before, I do not weigh a man on his mistakes, but on how he responds to his mistakes.”
White, 20, of Livonia, entered into a plea agreement on Sept. 21 to charges of delivering and manufacturing narcotics, possession of narcotics and maintaining a drug house. CMU police arrested him and former teammate Joe Sawicki in April after detectives said the two grew psilocybin mushrooms in the bathroom the two shared in their Celani Hall room.
Prior to Friday’s sentencing, Chartier asked Chamberlain to consider probation for White and not issue a jail sentence. White has matured as a person and is ready to be a “productive member of society,” Chartier said.
“Mr. White has done a lot of introspection of his life,” she said. “If you asked him a year ago if he’d be standing here in a court room, pleading guilty to drug charges … It’s been a wake-up call. He feels embarrassed for his family.”
His father, Michael White; mother, Karen White; and brothers Mitchell and Miles each wrote letters to the court in support of Austin.
White was granted Holmes Youthful Trainee Act status, eligible to youths between the ages of 17 and 20 who have committed a crime and are serving prison time or probation. If White complies with all terms of his probation, the conviction will be removed from his record.
Prosecutors attempted to block White from being granted HYTA status, citing pending legal issues in Wayne County and an “uncharged felony complaint” filed in Isabella County last fall. White was charged over the summer with two separate home invasions in his native Livonia, one of which is alleged to have occurred in November while he was a member of the CMU football team.
“I’m a little perplexed that the prosecutors don’t want to grant HYTA status but have information they don’t want discussed,” Chamberlain said. “He has not plead or been convicted in Wayne County … he stands innocent as far as I’m concerned.
“For me to project the charges in Wayne County, I’d be remiss. For me to look at an uncharged felony against him, that’s dangerous.”
Senior assistant prosecutor Stuart Black recommended Chamberlain sentence White to receive a short time in jail and longer probation sentence than Sawicki (one year) and Dearborn sophomore Kevin King, who was charged in April with delivering and manufacturing narcotics.
White and Sawicki were kicked off the CMU football team by head coach Dan Enos in April. King, a defensive back, remains with the program, having served a two-game suspension at the beginning of the season.
“Your behavior is unacceptable, reckless, foolish,” Chamberlain said to White before issuing his sentence. “Your idea was to make money off a criminal enterprise. That’s immoral … and not a good choice.”
Chamberlain also lifted White’s restriction to leave the state, allowing Austin to join his father in Illinois, where he is the principal at Bolingbrook High School. His mother has remained in Livonia and has accompanied him at recent court appearances.
During past court appearances, Chartier said White plans to continue going to school and playing football in Illinois.
A 2010 graduate of Livonia Stevenson High School and standout running back, White committed to the University of Michigan before transferring to CMU for the 2011 season. Under NCAA transfer rules, he was required to sit out the season, during which he was “indefinitely suspended” by Enos for undisclosed reasons.
White’s suspension was lifted prior to the 2012 season, and he was expected to be the team’s top running back, before he was suspended again prior to the program’s April spring game. He never played a game in a CMU uniform.
White and Chartier declined comment after sentencing, with Chartier forwarding all questions to her Lansing office.