Since our last visit, the relationship between form SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American QB Peter Lalich and Thomas Jefferson’s University has become even more soured and is officially over.
On September 14, “less than 24 hours after a 45-10 whipping at Connecticut” in which Lalich did not travel with the team, he was on the practice field with his teammates, seemingly preparing for the beatable Open Date on 9/20 and for-once favorite Duke Blue Devils on 9/27.
Lalich, remember, had a court date in Charlottesville scheduled for the day before the Duke game, as a result of a probation violation charge. The prior week’s press release from the team/school did not mention suspension or anything beyond the UConn game, so did HC Al Groh think Lalich might be available for Duke? On Sunday, Groh commented that the open date “allows us to give all of them quite a few turns and prepare for any contingency.” Lalich was the clear starter when available. Marc Verica completed his first career (mostly short) passes in Storrs, completing 73% of them. Senior Scott Deke was used as well – after the game was well out of hand – and led the only TD drive. We have to assume that true freshman Riko Smalls was also getting some work, although he did not make the trip to Connecticut.
Sometime over the next few days, Lalich’s lawyer, Tim Heaphy, requested that the 9/26 court date be moved up eight days to 9/18, likely to increase the 20-year-old’s chances of playing in Durham. In court on Thursday, Lalich “admitted to violating terms of his probation” according to the RTD, and “testified that he drank alcohol to celebrate the end of U.Va.’s training camp last month.” Lalich also told the judge that “he believed he was allowed to drink while on probation as long as he didn’t get arrested.”
The RTD points out that “Heaphy said [Thursday] afternoon that Lalich had mixed up his dates in his Sept. 4 interview with his probation officer. ‘He miscalculated the time frame of the historical marijuana use, and that’s what we needed to clarify.’” Team Lalich presented clean & clear results from team drug tests and also the solicited testimony from teammate and favorite target Kevin Ogletree, a summer roommate (questionable judgment?) of Lalich.
The Charlottesville General District judge did not punish Lalich, but rather he kept the probation in force and continued the case until July 21, 2009.
Within a matter of a few hours, the team/school issued a statement including the following:
- AD Craig Littlepage: “We have supported Peter, but believe today a point has been reached where it’s best for all concerned that he no longer participate on the team. This is my decision, and it has the support of head football coach Al Groh. We wish Peter the best in the future.”
- Groh: “Any time a situation doesn’t work out in the most positive way for any player it’s regrettable, but we stand united with this decision.”
Clearly the reference to Groh within the former Cavalier assistant basketball coach’s statement and the “united” verbiage in that of the 1967 Comm-school grad point to issues (or at least perceptions) of division among the ranks. That’s another story for another day. Back to Lalich, and for a change, some investigating reporting. According to the RTD:
“Sources close to the football program said that Lalich, in recent meetings with U.Va. officials, had assured them he had not been drinking while on probation.
One of them, sources said, occurred last week, when U.Va. became aware of photos on Lalich’s Facebook page — since taken down — that called his judgment into question and indicated that statements he’d made to university officials and the news media might not have been genuine.
Those photos, sources said, led to the decision by Groh, with the full support of U.Va. officials, to not allow Lalich to travel with the team to last weekend’s game at Connecticut.”
The RTD also believes that Groh played Lalich against Richmond because he was “convinced that report [regarding Lalich’s probation violation] was incorrect.”
Prior to learning of his dismissal, Lalich said in a statement that he’s “learned a great deal from this experience about personal responsibility,” knows his “actions have disappointed the people who have helped me” and from this point forward will “try my best to show my family, the university, my teammates, the court and everyone else that I am worthy of their faith and trust in me.”
Heaphy, the lawyer, told the RTD he didn’t “know what factors went into [the] decision or what else may have transpired to cause them to take this step.” He commented to the Roanoke Times that the shift in dates was done in an effort to resolve the matter “sooner rather than later,” and hopefully allow for Lalich to “return to the field and the whole thing would be over with, with a full week’s time before the next game.” He noted that he contacted Littlepage the morning of the moved-up court date “in the interest of coordination.” Within hours of leaving court, Lalich was called into Littlepage’s office to hear the fateful news.
Heaphy mentioned that Littlepage indicated “there would potentially be consequences for participation. I didn’t know what that meant. I don’t represent [Lalich] at UVa. I represent him with the court. I had no idea it would be a dismissal from the team. I learned when the rest of the world did, well, maybe a little earlier through Peter.” Heaphy called the admission of a mistake by Lalich a “courageous thing” and noted that “he has not been kicked out of school” or imposed an additional sanction by the court.
By Monday, the ties were fully severed. On his radio call-in show, Groh noted that “we’ve moved on” and “we have the team that we have right now, and those are the guys that we’re concentrating on.” [He couldn’t resist prefacing those comments with a bit of a lecture on the “misinformation, rumor, innuendo” and “people who think they have the answers.”] Lalich, via email wrote that CLP “should get praise for his commendable efforts supporting the University’s scholar athletes.”
By Wednesday, reports had surfaced that Lalich had landed in Corvallis, Oregon – home of the 1-2 Beavers, ironically enough a 25-point underdog to #1 USC this weekend. Lalich watched OSU practice on Monday, and must “complete one academic year of residence, excluding summer terms, at Oregon State before becoming eligible for competition.” The 757’s Daily Press points our that Lalich also considered “Auburn, UCLA and Cincinnati,” while searching for a school “on the quarter system instead of the semester system because his understanding is he won’t have to sit out a year if he transfers to a quarter-system school, many of which haven’t yet started fall classes.”
For the record, OSU is coached by Alabama grad Mike Riley, has thrown an average of 43 passes a game this year, and has a RS freshman at backup QB would be in line with Lalich eligibility-wise in 2010.
As I overheard one fellow fan say… So long, Reefer Pete, we hardly knew you.
Tags: virginia football