Students charged in brawl

By Jami Peterson

DeKalb Police have arrested five NIU football players and a former member of the team for their parts in the Jan. 29 brawl at a Sigma Chi fraternity party, and one more arrest should be underway.

The six NIU students were arrested and charged between Saturday and Tuesday.

According to DeKalb Police reports, NIU football team member Jeffrey Wroblewski, a junior tight end from Orland Park, was arrested and charged with battery and disorderly conduct. Former football team member Bart Geiser, 22, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct along with members Thomas Rhomberg, 22, Paul McAndrews, 21, Bradley Capes and Tim O’Brien, 21. All students posted bond and were released.

NIU junior Geiser, a former quarterback from Springfield, left the team this semester to have shoulder surgery.

Suspects held the following positions: Rhomberg, a senior safety from Dubuque, Iowa; McAndrews, a junior defensive end from Barrington; Capes, a senior offensive tackle from Dixon and O’Brien, a junior offensive tackle from Lemont.

DeKalb Police Officer James Spartz, the investigating officer in the case, previously said a total of seven arrests would be made and all of the suspects in the investigation were members of the NIU football team. Spartz was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Sources say the brawl erupted when Geiser refused to leave the party and was thrown out by fraternity members. He then returned with his teammates to get revenge by swinging baseball bats and golf clubs and punching fraternity members.

DeKalb Police Chief Donald Berke said he didn’t want to single out the brawl. “I don’t look at this really any differently than any fight in town,” he said.

He went on to say the entire NIU football team should not be punished for the actions of only some of its members.

“It’s seven members of a very large organization. It would be unfortunate to totally label the program,” he said. “When one says the NIU football team is involved, they are insinuating every member of the team was involved. I have never bought into that philosophy and I hope I never do.”

Berke commended Spartz on the investigation. “Under the circumstances, I think the job he did was admirable. It’s always an unfortunate situation when something like this happens. The people involved were cooperative.”

The football players also faced penalties from Head Coach Charlie Sadler and the NIU Judicial Office.

Sadler previously said about seven members of the team suffered “in-house penalties” ranging from suspensions to probations.

The NIU Judicial Office levied sanctions against about seven members of the football team for “brawling and property damage” and required them to pay restitution charges.

However, DeKalb Police say no suspects were arrested for property damage in the case. At the time of the case, a battery nd criminal damage to property at the Sigma Chi house and two related accounts of criminal damage were reported to DeKalb Police. The damage to the two cars totaled $595.