- Marissa McClain/Daily
By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published July 26, 2012
CHICAGO — The Michigan football team was dealt a blow on Monday with the indefinite suspensions of Fitzgerald Toussaint and Frank Clark amid legal charges.
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Toussaint, a redshirt junior running back who was the starting tailback in 2011, was arrested on Saturday and was slapped with a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Clark, a sophomore candidate for the starting weak-side defensive end spot, was arrested and charged with second-degree home invasion in June after allegedly stealing a laptop from Stockwell Hall.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke announced the players’ suspensions when they surfaced Monday and he backed up the suspension on Thursday at the annual Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.
“They’re indefinitely suspended right now,” Hoke said. “They’re going to pay the price for poor judgments, which a lot of 18- to 23-year-old kids make, and then we’ll make a decision down the road.”
Hoke said he does not know yet whether Toussaint and Clark will join the football team as it opens fall camp next week. Looking further into the future and the looming season opener against reigning-champion Alabama, Hoke refused to forecast whether the suspensions might be lifted before the season.
“Obviously there’s a standard of performance we expect at Michigan from an academic standpoint to a community standpoint and to an athletic, competition standpoint,” Hoke said.
The blame for the suspensions, of course, goes to Toussaint and Clark individually. But does Hoke pin some of the blame for off-field transgressions on the senior leadership of the football team?
“You always do,” Hoke said. “You always do. That’s all part of it. It’s a growing and an educational process that guys go through. They’re paying a price for it because there’s consequences.”
Even in the hours after the suspensions were levied, Hoke turned to his seniors to keep their teammates in check, keeping the leaders accountable for everyone.
And the leaders have replied emphatically, already reaching out to Toussaint and Clark to support and encourage them even in their absence from the team.
“Those are my brothers,” said senior quarterback Denard Robinson. “I’m going to be there for them through thick and thin. Whatever they need, I’m going to be there for them. They’ve made mistakes but I’m there for them.
“They’ve got to know that we’re a family and we’re never going to let them down or let them go. Those are going to be my brothers forever.”