At least 41 of the underage drinkers cited by the Vermillion Police Department at a busted house party Saturday are University of South Dakota students, including 18 student-athletes.
Forty-nine citations for minor possession/consumption of alcohol were filed at the Clay County Clerk of Courts office Tuesday from the incident, after the VPD responded to a noise complaint at 1006 Rice Dr. Saturday at 10:55 p.m.
As many as 100 people were reported at the house when police arrived, and officers issued 49 underage drinking citations, one citation for failure to obey a police officer and one citation for noise prohibition which was given to the renter of the house, said VPD Chief Matt Betzen.
Betzen said to his knowledge, most people cooperated with police, but at least one male was pepper sprayed for resisting.
VPD does not always have all the people on staff for this size of house party, Betzen said, but because of an overlap shift — where more officers are on duty when parties are at their prime — seven officers responded to Saturday’s incident.
“We’re able to take a more assertive role in these kinds of situations, which can be dangerous and easily get out of hand,” Betzen said.
The VPD and Clay County State’s Attorney’s office refused to disclose the names of the people issued citations at the party because the incident is an “ongoing criminal investigation.”
Those charged with a minor possession/consumption of alcohol are facing a Class B misdemeanor, and could be facing a fine of $114 and documentation of the incident on their permanent criminal record.
Students cited for minors will report to court as early as March 4, but the university’s administration will not likely pursue further punishment because the incident occurred off campus, according to the Dean of Students office.
No student-athlete who was issued a citation has been cut from his or her respective team, and those in-season will still be able to play in upcoming games, said Athletic Director David Herbster.
Herbster also confirmed some USD recruits were at the party, but none of them were cited by police after taking breathalyzer tests. He said he is less concerned about their presence at the party and more concerned about how the current USD athletes left in charge of them took them to the house party in the first place.
Student-athletes issued a minor consist of at least four volleyball players, two women basketball players, nine football players, two tennis players and one soccer player.
These students still face consequences issued by the athletic department, but the USD student-athlete handbook does not state a mandatory suspension from play for a first violation, Herbster said.
“The student-athletes will have to deal with the citation they received and the consequences set by the athletic department and team,” he said.
Individual punishment is left up to the coach, Herbster said, and could consist of acts like cleaning up trash at the DakotaDome or extra conditioning sessions.
Follow reporter Megan Card on Twitter @meg_card