Bonamego confident Fountain will be found innocent
Head football coach John Bonamego said he believes it is only a matter of time before linebacker Malik Fountain is found innocent of an alleged assault.
Fountain was arrested April 7 for an assault that occurred in December. The redshirt freshman is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of assault and battery. After his arrest, he was suspended indefinitely from the team, a policy outlined by the student-athlete handbook.
The alleged assault occurred at Wayside Central, where Fountain was in early December with Courtney Williams, a 2014 wide receiver. The vicitim told police Fountain punched her and her friend and positively identified him while looking at the football roster. Neither Fountain nor Williams admitted to harming the women, but both admitted to fighting a man.
In the days following his arrest, Bonamego has had conversations with Fountain, who he described as "disappointed and upset." Fountain was released on 10 percent of a $9,000 bond. The coach said he and the athletics department are confident Fountain will be found innocent.
"Especially in the case of someone who has never been in trouble, we owe him at least the benefit of the doubt to see how it plays out," Bonamego said. "I don't know all the parties involved, but I do know the person that's being accused. That's why I'm going to support him."
Bonamego said he's also had conversations with the rest of the team about conduct -- a conversation that started when he became coach and still continues regularly. He said the "do's and don'ts" are talked about every couple weeks, especially when conduct issues regarding college athletes or NFL players surface.
"We talk about the difference between being an ordinary citizen and being in the fishbowl that athletics put you in," he said. "We talk about the standard set for athletes because we represent the university as a whole. We are looked upon to be role models. The hard part is that we have to remember there are two sides to every story."
When former cornerback Brandon Greer was arraigned in July on several felony charges, he was dismissed from the football team. This came before he was found guilty of several misdemeanors. Fountain waived his right to an arraignment — a settlement conference has been set for April 20. Bonamego said the decision to dismiss an athlete is based on the specific situation.
"Each situation is different," he said. "Brandon had had other discipline issues while he was here."
Assistant Athletics Director for Communications Rob Wyman said the athletics department was aware of the allegations against Fountain in December.
"It was just an accusation," Bonamego said. "You can't suspend anybody for that. Once charges are made, that changes the playing field. It's our university policy that the athlete be suspended until the legal system plays out. We are very much supportive of Malik."