Mark Stoops discusses UK’s off-field issues; New information emerges for one of six players charged


Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops looks off to one of his players. University of Kentucky’s football team played their annual spring game on Friday, April 12, 2019 at Kroger Field. The Blue team won 64-10. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops understands that he has to trust the judicial system when it comes to his six players who currently face criminal charges.

“We’ve been patient, our players have been patient, and you have to trust the system. That gets hard,” Stoops said Monday during his opening statement at a news conference. “Our players have been out a long time. They missed probably 13 weeks, 14 weeks of time on the field right now with this situation, so I have to believe in the system.”

R.J Adams, JuTahn McClain, Andru Phillips, Earnest Sanders IV, Vito Tisdale and Joel Williams all face a first-degree burglary charge, stemming from an incident that reportedly took place at a party in a Lexington residence in March 2021. 

All six players pleaded not guilty at arraignment on Aug. 20 and had their preliminary hearing waived on Aug. 26.

According to the initial report, an incident that took place at a Lexington residence on March 6 saw three individuals enter a private party uninvited. Once asked to leave, the subjects threatened to return.  

Later that night, they returned with other individuals, forcing their way into the residence. Court documents obtained by the Associated Press claim that a “physical altercation” took place, leaving multiple people injured.  

Tisdale was also charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, as the report alleges that the subject pointed a firearm at a victim. In July, the sophomore was also charged in Bowling Green with possession of marijuana after being pulled over, according to a tweet from WDRB’s Jason Riley. He pleaded guilty on July 28 and was probated a 45-day jail sentence.  

Stoops later mentioned that Denny Butler, a former Kentucky state representative and Louisville police sergeant, came to speak to the team over the summer about his work with exonerating wrongfully convicted people. 

Butler, who appeared on Kentucky Sports Radio on Monday, told KSR that he is now working with the six players that were charged.

On Tuesday afternoon, Carlos Phillips, father of Andru Phillips, posted on Twitter what appears to be a letter from the UK Office of Student Conduct from April 23 seeming to clear his son of any wrongdoing.  

The letter states that Phillips was accused of violating Code of Student Conduct Policy L, Harm and Threat of Harm. After an investigation, Phillips was found not responsible by Libby Hogan, UK Office of Student Conduct Assistant Director, according to the letter.

The UK Office of Student Conduct cleared all six players in June, but the first-degree burglary charges were still filed against them on Aug. 19.

Stoops knows that, at times, legal proceedings have shortcomings, but he feels hopeful about what will become of his six players, even if it’s not in his control.

“There’s flaws in the system at times and we have to trust that system, and we will, but I also stand by our players until I have the evidence that tells me otherwise,” Stoops said. “So, I hope to have all the players out there, but I don’t know, that’s out of my hands. We’ll see what happens but we’ll go from there.”

When asked about the judicial process his players have faced, Stoops was cautious in the words he chose.

“Again, I’ve got to bite my tongue,” he said. “I just know what’s been done to our players. I’m not sure what’s been done to others.”