Aug. 10, 2001
PULLMAN, Wash. -- - Washington State University linebacker Melvin "Champ" Simmons, who started 10 games last fall, has decided, with advice from his family, to withdraw from school, Cougar head football coach Mike Price confirmed Friday.
Simmons, a junior, informed Price of the decision after missing WSU's first three fall camp workouts Thursday and Friday morning. He indicated to Price his withdrawal from school was a family decision precipitated by a fight in late March in which Simmons suffered significant head and facial injuries. Simmons suffered the injuries during a fight at a WSU fraternity party. During the altercation he was knocked down and kicked several times.
"Champ Simmons and his family have made the decision they feel is in Champ's best interest and that is for Champ to attend and play football at another school," Price commented.
"I do not think it was an easy decision for them to make and while I would very much like Champ to stay at Washington State University and remain a member of the Cougar football team, I do know this family has been through a tough time and I respect their decision," Price added. "Champ suffered physical and emotional damage from the attack and I very much understand the concerns of the Simmons family."
Simmons said he would be rooting for the team during the upcoming season.
"I'll be watching them (the Cougars) all year. I will be their number one fan," Simmons said Friday afternoon. "I have no anger, nothing negative toward the football program and Washington State. It is just one of those things that happened."
"I have a love and respect for coach Price and I liked the decisions he made toward the players," Simmons went on to say. "He wants the players to be responsible on and off the field and in the classroom. I will continue to recommend the staff and teammates to players who are good enough to play at this level."
Simmons, who made 59 tackles last year and led WSU with seven sacks from his outside linebacker position, did not participate in spring drills in April because of the injuries suffered in the altercation.
In early July Simmons underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a knee injury suffered while playing recreational basketball in the spring. The injury to his right knee included a torn plica and lateral meniscus. WSU officials had expected Simmons to begin a running program next week, with a return to team activities anticipated within the next two weeks. During the summer he had participated in some team conditioning activities, as allowed by the knee injury.