Northern Illinois football coach Dave Doeren has certain standards for his football team.
To Doeren, linebacker Devon Butler didn’t live up to those standards.
Doeren and Butler met in the coach’s office Wednesday morning, and Doeren felt it was time for the linebacker to move on. Butler was dismissed and granted his release from NIU’s football program and will no longer be a member of the team.
“I have certain standards for our players and Devon didn’t meet them,” Doeren said. “There’s 104 guys on the team besides Devon, and I want to spend my time with the guys that really want to help me and really want to help the university and help this football team.”
Butler could not be reached for comment.
Butler, who was to enter his redshirt junior year, was involved in an off-campus incident Sunday morning in which he was stabbed at a party in the 800 block of Regent Drive in DeKalb.
Police recovered the knife, which had a blade longer than 4 inches, according to court documents. Butler was treated and was back working out with the team Monday morning.
Freddy E. Sparks-Ward stands accused of stabbing Butler and was charged with armed violence, aggravated battery, battery and criminal trespass to real property.
If convicted of the armed violence charge, he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Butler’s Twitter account, which has since been taken down, showed tweets about hosting a two-day party Friday and Saturday night on the 800 block of Regent Drive.
Doeren made it clear that Butler’s release wasn’t just because of the weekend incident, saying it was “the tip of the iceberg.” Doeren later referenced having previous conversations with Butler regarding the linebacker’s conduct.
Butler will have the option to transfer to another school. Doeren said NIU will release players to schools not in the Mid-American Conference and outside of the Huskies’ playing schedule.
Butler could transfer to a Football Championship Subdivision school and play immediately, or transfer to an Football Bowl Subdivision school and be forced to sit out a year per NCAA transfer rules.
Doeren said he would help Butler, who had 80 tackles two years ago and was a third-team all-MAC selection, during the transfer process.
NIU’s second-year coach said Butler is healthy, in good shape and in good academic standing.
“I just said ‘hey, give me a list of schools you’re interested in, and if you want me to call on your behalf, I’ll definitely do that,’” Doeren said.
On April 5, 2011, Butler was shot while in an off-campus apartment. Police have said the shooting was in retaliation for a drug deal that happened earlier in the day in which Mark Orozco and Richard Van Arsdale III supplied between 10 to 30 grams of marijuana, but did not get paid, to two other people.
The drug deal took place several hours before the 11:56 p.m. shooting at a location near the Aspen Court apartment building. According to police, the two who stole the drugs went to apartment No. 3 of 1009 Aspen Court and hid. Police stressed that Butler was not involved in nor was he present during or had knowledge of the drug transaction.
That incident was unrelated to the one that took place over the weekend, police said.
Doeren said Wednesday’s events were tough, given what Butler has been through.
“It was hard, man. I told him the best thing I get to do is give a guy a scholarship and the worst thing to do is give one away,” Doeren said. “It was very difficult. At the same time, there’s 104 guys that need me to set a standard.”