News broke on Tuesday that former Big 12 defensive freshman of the year Devonte Fields was involved in a domestic disturbance investigation stemming from a Sunday incident in which he allegedly pointed a gun at his ex-girlfriend, threatened her and punched her in the head. TCU released a statement that Fields has been "separated" from the university, pending results of the investigation. As of Tuesday afternoon, no arrest had been made.
A Fort Worth police report, obtained by Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports, stated that Fields' ex-girlfriend Haley Brown was at a mutual friend's house and that Fields "punched [the friend's] bedroom window out with his hands from the outside" before pointing a gun at Brown and yelling, "I should blast you." According to the report, "Haley stated that Devonte continued to yell at her and punched her in the face one time with a closed fist."
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Officers observed Haley’s right cheek to be swollen with a small cut under her eye. She refused to be taken to the hospital for further evaluation and told officers she did not want to pursue charges against Fields. Police, however, told her that a report and family violence packet must be completed."
"The university does not tolerate harassment or misconduct by a student," TCU's official statement said. "The university discipline process will be implemented which may result in disciplinary action from the university above and beyond any legal consequences the student might face.”
Fields was named the preseason defensive player of the year at Big 12 media days earlier this week. No football team likes giving up on a student-athlete, particularly one as talented as Fields, but this was a decision coach Gary Patterson and the university needed to make. Fields violated team policy and was suspended at the beginning of the 2013 campaign before missing the remainder of the season due to a foot injury suffered against Texas Tech on Sept. 12. He was involved with police again in January '14 after reporting that he was pistol whipped and robbed by three unidentified men. Fields declined to let police into his residence afterward and did not press charges.
From a team standpoint, this is obviously a major loss for TCU, which is hoping for a bounce-back year after a disappointing 4-8 effort last fall. A healthy Fields would have been disruptive to just about every offense the Horned Frogs will face, and even a fraction of the potential Fields showed during his 10-sack freshman campaign would have added to an already potent defense.
But it's not as if TCU is facing an entirely foreign situation. Patterson and his defensive staff schemed without Fields for the vast majority of last season. That might explain why Patterson didn't seem all that excited about Fields being voted the preseason defensive player of the year by the Big 12 media.
There is still significant talent on the defensive line, from former four-star tackle Tevin Lawson to junior Terrell Lathan, who came on strong in 2013 and led the Frogs with five sacks. Senior Chucky Hunter is more than capable of leading the team inside, and he is coming off a second straight second-team All-Big 12 selection.
TCU is always stout up front, and even without Fields last year, it still held opponents to an average of 3.3 yards per carry. The defense wasn't the problem last year; the Horned Frogs ranked 13th in defensive S&P+, while the offense sputtered, scoring 30 or more points on only four occasions (in wins over Southeastern Louisiana and SMU and in losses to Kansas State and Baylor). With so many close losses -- six games by 10 points or fewer -- having Fields would've been a bonus, but the offense is where TCU needs to make a jump if it hopes to contend in the Big 12.
Distancing itself from Fields until things get resolved is the right thing to do for TCU. These are strong allegations that go beyond the typical "deserves a second chance" verbiage coaches tend to relay.