Ernest Mason, a 19-year-old sophomore-to-be receiver on the University of Wisconsin football team, pled guilty to four Class A misdemeanors stemming from two incidents, Monday in Dane County Circuit Court.
As part of a plea agreement, Mason will enter the state of Wisconsin's First Offenders Program and will have the charges dismissed if he successfully completes the program. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the length of Mason's stay in the program, and the details of his contract with the FOP, have not yet been determined. If Mason were to violate the terms, he will face sentencing regarding the four guilty pleas.
Mason has been suspended indefinitely from the Badger football team since being arrested April 1 and charged the following day with four misdemeanors—battery, intimidating a victim, disorderly conduct and bail jumping—after an altercation with his 18-year-old girlfriend outside the Regent Apartments in Madison.
Mason was also arrested following an altercation with the same woman Dec. 2 at a campus dormitory. He was charged with disorderly conduct and intimidating a victim after that incident and was suspended under the university's Student-Athlete Discipline Policy. That suspension was revoked two days later by an appeals committee.
The plea agreement entered Monday dismissed the two disorderly conduct charges, both Class B misdemeanors, in exchange for guilty pleas on the four more serious counts.
According to the terms of the university's discipline policy, Mason initially had 72 hours with which to appeal the April suspension. Under terms of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the university does not release details of appeals unless a suspension is modified. As such, it is unclear whether Mason appealed the April suspension.
In either case, the discipline policy stipulates that his suspension would remain in effect until "any charges have been addressed by the legal system and/or any applicable university of departmental disciplinary process has been completed." Wisconsin sports information director Justin Doherty stated Monday that the discipline policy was not designed to go hand-in-hand with the legal system but that this new information could influence Mason's case. The appeals committee does have the authority to revisit cases and could decide to reconvene to pass further judgment or could elect to leave the suspension as is without further discussion on the matter.
The terms of Mason's bail, which forbids any contact with the victim, remain intact under the terms of the plea agreement.