Mendenhall: BYU football player lied about arrest for DUI
Provo » Saying he trusted a player too much and was lied to, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said after practice Wednesday that he was not aware safety Shiloah Te'o had been arrested in August on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
"Along the way, simply, I was not told the truth by one of my players," Mendenhall said, noting that he heard rumors about an incident in Provo the last weekend of August and was told by Te'o that he was not involved.
"That is probably what is most disturbing to me."
Mendenhall kicked Te'o off the team Tuesday night, saying only that the sophomore from Kahuku High in Laie, Hawaii, had violated team rules.
On Wednesday, The Tribune first reported that Te'o, 20, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and two other traffic violations Aug. 29, citing Provo City Justice Court documents. Charges were filed Sept. 18.
Asked why Te'o was allowed to play in BYU's first five games, including the 14-13 win over Oklahoma just a week after the alleged DUI, Mendenhall said he did not learn of his player's legal troubles until a few days ago.
"I received a text message this Saturday night, about midnight, that was saying he was cited -- Shiloah Te'o was cited for a DUI on that same weekend [of the rumored incident]," Mendenhall said. "That was the first time that I ever [believed] that he was involved."
Mendenhall said he met with Te'o on Sunday (and apparently still didn't get a confession), then confirmed the wrongdoing Tuesday night after practice, a practice that included Te'o, who was slated to be a starter next season.
The coach said Te'o withdrew from school Wednesday.
"He has been held accountable now, and from the minute I found out last night after practice, and it was confirmed, we acted consistently and quickly with what I have done before," Mendenhall said. "But really the most damage that was done along the way was just not being told the truth."
Te'o was arrested while driving an SUV, which had three passengers, at a Provo convenience store, 222 W. 300 South, according to the police report. Mendenhall said he does not believe the passengers, none of whom were charged, were BYU players. After observing the vehicle pull out of a state liquor store parking lot without stopping, the arresting officer approached the vehicle when it turned into the 7-Eleven without signaling.
The "obvious odor of alcohol coming from the driver" prompted a field sobriety test, which indicated Te'o's blood alcohol limit could be over the legal limit of .08 percent. A test at the police station confirmed those results.