A surprising 'star' in Times' critical report

WHEN JIM STERK emailed boosters last week warning of an upcoming Seattle Times story about the off-field woes of some WSU football players, widespread belief among fans was that the piece simply would be a compilation of already known miscues. And much of the story, which broke Sunday, fit that profile. But one part of the report was decidedly fresh: Andy Mattingly's three run-ins with the law.

Until Sunday, Mattingly was largely known as the hard-working linebacker from Spokane who had a sack-happy, breakout 2007 sophomore season and a bright future ahead of him at his new position, defensive end.

It seems the 6-4, 245-pounder has been busy on and off the field.

The Times' front-page story, authored by Bud Withers and Ken Armstrong, chronicles how Mattingly and Cougar tight end Trevor Mooney teamed up in January to help a friend seek revenge on two North Idaho College soccer players who had punched out the friend's teeth in an earlier altercation.

Mattingly, the Times reports in its 3,037-word story, kicked in the door on the soccer players' Coeur d'Alene apartment. One of the soccer players grabbed a steak knife and the other a butter knife. Mattingly grabbed a frying pan off the stove and proceeded to hit one of the soccer players on the head "so hard the pan's handle broke," according to court records cited by the Times.

"When police arrested Mattingly and Mooney, Mooney was so drunk he vomited while being booked. Both players spent a night in jail before bonding out," the Times wrote. "Prosecutors charged Mattingly, 20, with aggravated battery and burglary, both felonies."

Mattingly, who the Times said was charged and convicted of minor in possession of alcohol a year ago, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to two years' probation and three days in jail that would be served only if he violated his probation.

Less than two weeks after the Coeur d'Alene incident, the Times reported, Mattingly and Mooney had a run in with Pullman police that involved erratic driving on Mattingly's part and alcohol consumption on Mooney's.

Mattingly wasn't charged but Mooney was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol. He pleaded guilty and was fined, the Times said.

The Times quotes first-year WSU coach Paul Wulff as saying, "the kids were punished, believe me, they were punished."

No other details were offered.

Mooney, a deep backup at tight end, has since left WSU and sources in Pullman say the Mission Viejo, Calif., product is eyeing a transfer to an Ivy League school. His departure may have been hastened by a suggested move to the defensive side of the ball –- a move he wasn't excited about making.

Mattingly, the Times said, has been ordered by players on WSU's "Unity Council" to complete community service work.

The Times' story also said Mattingly and Mooney are just two of 25 Cougar players in the last 18 months who have been arrested or charged with offenses –-- many of them misdemeanors related to alcohol or marijuana -- that carry possible jail time.

In Sterk's email to boosters last week he cautioned that the football program isn't in crisis with the behavior of its athletes, but said there is room for improvement. He also said that while there are no quick fixes, the program is heading in the right direction.

CLICK HERE to read the Times' story, "WSU coach inherits a mess off the field."

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