Two University of Memphis basketball players pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of disorderly conduct related to a scuffle in a nightclub over the weekend.
Shawn Taggart and Jeff Robinson appeared briefly in Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Court. Their case was reset for Sept. 25.
"These are two quality young men," their attorney, Leslie Ballin, said after the appearance. "They were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Under the law, we expected them to be exonerated."
The two were arrested after police responded to a disturbance outside the Plush Club early Sunday morning.
Club security accused Taggart of starting a fight, though police said they later refuted that.
While being detained by officers, Taggart was accused of yelling obscenities and agitating a crowd that had gathered outside the club. Robinson also was accused of approaching a police officer aggressively and yelling obscenities.
The incident prompted their angry coach, John Calipari, to impose a curfew for his players and barring them from visiting any nightclub.
Robinson, 19, is a freshman shooting guard from Columbus, N.J.
Taggart, 22, is a 6-11 forward from Richmond, Va., who transferred last season from Iowa State. Neither has played a game for the Tigers.
Tigers basketball coach, John Calapari, said there were other players involved in the Beale Street brawl, but he would not say who.
Action News 5 has learned at least one of those is a player with a name familiar to fans and police.
According to the initial police report, a security guard at the Plush Club says he recognized the man who started the original disturbance as Memphis Tiger Forward Joey Dorsey.
The security guard told police he was trying to get Dorsey out of the club when Dorsey fought back, leaving the security guard with a cut on his forehead.
The security guard says Dorsey ran from the club before nearly two dozen officers made the scene. Dorsey has not been charged with anything.
Dorsey was arrested last Fall after police pulled him over for running a red light and found he was driving on a suspended license.
On Sunday, Calipari announced a seven-day-a-week team curfew and a no nightclub policy. "I'm not happy," he said. "I know they're going to screw up. They're young kids, and they're going to do dumb things, like my own children. But how many times have I said, nothing good happens in a club after midnight? We'll deal with this; a lot of it will be in-house. Some of it's not going to be," he added.
Robinson and Taggart were expected to make big contributions to this year's top ranked squad.
Some say, despite this episode, they still will.
Sport56 radio host Eli Savoie says because this team has so much potential , Coach John Calipari might make Shawn Taggart and Jeff Robinson sit out a few games but that's it. "He's not going to let young players making dumb mistakes affect the possibility of what he's got this season," says Savoie.
Whatever the punishment, Savoie says it's important Robinson and Taggart learn a hard lesson, one that could be taught by their peers.
"The leaders on this team, the veterans on this team, they gotta step up and be leaders with these young guys to say, hey, we can't have this cause we do have a chance to be a special team this year as long as we don't do things off the court to affect that," adds Savoie.