Seventeen Texas Christian University students, four of them football players, have been arrested on drug charges today during a raid on and around the school's Fort Worth campus.
Marijuana, cocaine, molly (a powdered and more potent form of ecstasy), ecstasy pills and prescription drugs Xanax, hydrocodone and the heavily addictive painkiller OxyContin were among the illicit drugs police allege students were selling to other students, often on campus in fraternity houses.
"I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad," head coach Gary Patterson said in a statement released early this afternoon. "Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student-athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period.
"The Horned Frogs are bigger and stronger than those involved."
Linebacker Tanner Brock, who led the undefeated Rose Bowl champion 2010 team in tackles and was expected to anchor the team's defense in the coming season, was arrested along with teammates D.J. Yendrey, Tyler Horn and Devin Johnson for selling marijuana.
All four have now been dismissed from the team. Their profiles were erased from the team website earlier in the day.
The arrests are a rare black mark for a football program known for its unusually clean record. TCU was the only team in the 2011 preseason Top 25 with no players on its roster with criminal records, according to a Sports Illustrated report. TCU and Oklahoma University are reportedly the only schools to perform background checks on recruits.
"I don't think it's a football problem," Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. said during a news conference this morning. "It's four people on the football team. We don't know anymore yet."
"We were targeting dealers. We were not targeting the average student," said Capt. Ken Dean of the FWPD. "We were targeting individuals who were actively selling and making money doing this."
The suspects are all alleged to have participated in "hand-to-hand delivery" of drugs to undercover agents. Police said no student "confidential informers" took part in the six-month investigation.
Capt. Dean would not reveal how those targeted for arrest were picked out, but did hint that investigators had looked at social media platforms used by TCU students.
Sophomore Julia Fitzgerald said she was surprised to hear that football players were among those charged.
"The players should know better," she said. "The [other students] at this school think they can get away with this stuff, that they're privileged and just don't know what to do with themselves. But especially, with the team going into the Big 12 [conference], it's going to put a damper on the season before it starts."
Fitzgerald was made aware of the arrests via a mass email sent out by Chancellor Boschini.
"TCU has never before experienced a magnitude of student arrests such as this," he wrote. "Today's events have forever changed the lives of the involved students, and we hope they will find a healthy way to move forward."
Police say the investigation is ongoing and could yield more arrests both on and off campus.