Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the team hotel early Thursday, calling into question his status for tonight's Fiesta Bowl game against Ohio State.
Paradise Valley police said Roberson admitted to having sex with the woman in a hotel room at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, but the player said the sex was consensual.
The woman, a Kansas State alumna in Arizona to attend the game, said she was sexually assaulted by the football player between 3 and 3:30 a.m., well after the team's 11 p.m. curfew.
Lt. Ron Warner with the Paradise Valley Police Department said the woman said she knew Roberson but was not dating him. Warner said the woman underwent a medical examination before being interviewed by police. Roberson also was interviewed at police headquarters, he said. Police said the case is being investigated.
There were no witnesses to the alleged assault, which reportedly occurred in another player's room, Warner said.
Kansas State athletic director Tim Weiser said he had few facts to share. He spoke during a press conference following a pep rally at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe on Thursday afternoon.
"As we learn more facts, we'll act accordingly," Weiser said. "A day before a huge game is not a good time for us, but I don't think there's a good time for something like this and, again, that's where our disappointment comes in."
Weiser would not say whether Roberson would be playing in today's game.
"That's a decision coach (Bill) Snyder will make," he said. "At an appropriate time an announcement will be made about that."
Neither Snyder nor Roberson were available for comment.
If Snyder decides to bench Roberson, the Wildcats would likely turn to 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman Dylan Meier, who took over the backup duties in the final half of the season from senior Jeff Schwinn, who made a critical error in a loss to Marshall.
Meier has played in only three games but is the team's third-leading rusher. He's averaging 9.3 yards on 16 carries. He is 5-of-8 passing for 78 yards with two interceptions.
Roberson, a senior from Baytown, Texas, started 12 of Kansas State's 14 games, passing for a school-record 24 touchdowns and rushing for another 13. He was the only quarterback in the country to pass for more than 2,000 yards (2,251) and rush for more than 900 (943), ranking 20th nationally in total offense. He is the only quarterback in the top 20 in passing efficiency and top 60 in rushing.
This season, Roberson set KSU career records for total offense (7,591 yards), touchdowns responsible for (76), touchdowns scored (38), rushing touchdowns (38), passing touchdowns (37) and rushing attempts (588). In his most recent game, he helped Kansas State to a 35-7 upset of then-No. 1 Oklahoma by completing 10-of-17 passes for 227 yards and four scores.
Without Roberson, the Wildcats are a dramatically different team on offense.
"They become one-dimensional when he's not in there," said Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio.
It remains to be seen how the distraction of 24 hours of publicity about the alleged sexual assault affects the Wildcats’ performance. Snyder said at Thursday's press conference that Kansas State was primed and eager to play.
The news of the accusation stunned many of the K-State fans who filled Wells Fargo Arena for Thursday's pep rally.
"The timing is terrible," said Dennis Hill, who said he drove 850 miles to watch today's game. "I can't imagine them allowing something like that to happen in the hotel under Snyder's rule. I hope it's not true."
- Staff writers Ed Price and Bob Moran contributed to this report.