The past few days have "surely been hell" for Maryland redshirt freshman wide receiver Kevin Washington since he was arrested on theft and forgery charges, but it's a hell that he admits he created for himself.
Washington, who faces a possible jail term and fines stemming from the alleged theft of a roommate's credit cards and the use of stolen personal checks from another, said yesterday that he "made a mistake" that may cost him his college scholarship and eventually his freedom.
"I did something wrong. I feel like my name has been dragged through the mud, and I have only myself to blame for it. What happened does not reflect who I am," Washington said. "It was a mistake. I'm willing to suffer any consequences that are ahead of me."
The 19-year-old Dunbar High graduate was charged Friday with stealing personal checks from Olusegun Mbanefo, a roommate in their on-campus Leonardtown apartment unit, and using them to pay for pizza deliveries. He was also charged with the theft of the credit cards of another roommate, Robert Greer. Mbanefo and Greer are not varsity football players.
While Kevin Washington was not charged with using the stolen credit cards, his teammate, Larry Washington, a sophomore running back from Randallstown High, has admitted that he used one of the cards to purchase a pair of tennis shoes and other clothing. He has not been charged.
Lt. Don Smith, a university police spokesman, said the department's investigation is ongoing and did not rule out the possibility that further charges may be filed.
"There are still avenues the detectives are pursuing," Smith said, referring to Larry Washington. "Like, to what extent the cards were used, where the checks were passed and who else might be involved. We hope to have it closed out by the end of the week."
Maryland football coach Mark Duffner suspended Kevin and Larry Washington, who are not related, indefinitely on Saturday.
Yesterday, Kevin Washington criticized Duffner for suspending him indefinitely so quickly, saying that he had hoped that he could "negotiate" with the first-year coach to stay on the team, especially if the sentence, which could involve 10 years on each of the forgery charges, did not involve jail time.
"He told me I could never play on the football team again," Kevin Washington said. "I felt like he made a snap decision. He's more concerned with his job and his reputation. He overreacted.
"He said to me I crossed the line, that something like that was inexcusable and he could not tolerate something like this in his program."
When Duffner was asked for his reaction to Washington's remarks after yesterday's second practice, the coach said he didn't have one. Will Washington ever be allowed to play for Maryland again?
"He's off the team, suspended indefinitely," Duffner said tersely. "That's all I'm going to say."
Smith said that Mbanefo and Greer reported the stolen credit cards and checks last Thursday. Upon learning that he was a possible suspect, Kevin Washington came to the police the next day.
Washington said he thought he would likely have been a third-string tight end this season behind Frank Wycheck and Joe Cooper, and had been working out in the weight room to make a bid for playing time.
Instead, Washington, an accounting and international business major and the only Dunbar player to earn a Division I football scholarship, is thinking about transferring, though not necessarily to play football.
"Football was my life, but football is not everything," Washington said. "There are other fields in which I can support myself."
Washington said he will have to get a public defender to represent him at his October trial. What the lawyer cannot do, however, is restore Washington's reputation.
"When I go back to Baltimore City, I have to look all those people in the eye and admit that I've done wrong," Washington said. "Everyone expected me to get my degree and play in the NFL. This is the last thing they expected. I feel like I've shamed my family and myself. But this will not make me stop living."