Washington State middle linebacker James Darling has been suspended for Saturday’s Pacific-10 Conference football game against Arizona after being charged with driving under the influence in the wake of a one-car rollover accident early Monday morning.
Darling, the Cougars’ leading tackler, was returning from a hockey game in Spokane when he rolled his vehicle just outside of Pullman, WSU coach Mike Price said Monday afternoon.
The 6-foot-1, 245-pound junior from Kettle Falls was treated for minor injuries at the scene but was not hospitalized, according to Pullman police.
It was not immediately known if anyone else was riding with the 20-year-old at the time of the accident, which occurred on Davis Way, shortly after midnight.
Price said Darling has been suspended from all team activities for the rest of the week and will not suit up for Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game against Arizona, which will be televised live on Prime Sports Northwest. In addition, Price said Darling was placed on team probation for the rest of the season.
Darling has 63 tackles and has been WSU’s most consistent defender this season. He will be replaced by sophomore Phillip Glover.
“We thank God that James was not injured and that no one else was injured,” Price said. “James is a good person who made a serious mistake in judgment. He will have to deal with the consequences of his actions and I know he will.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this is a nice young man, who made a serious mistake - one that could have been life-threatening.”
The accident and DUI charge come less than 10 days after Darling was cited by WSU police for theft of a student parking permit, it was learned Monday.
University police sergeant Mike Kenney said Darling turned himself in on the misdemeanor theft charge after police spotted a parking permit that had reported stolen in the car of another party and placed a wheel lock on the vehicle.
When the owner of the car was notified, he denied knowing anything about the permit, Kenney said.
But the next day, Darling went to police and admitted he had driven the car onto campus and had used the stolen permit.
“We had no way of knowing it was him,” Kenney said. “So the fact he came to us and turned himself in says something about what kind of kid he is.”
WSU athletic director Rick Dickson said he and Price had been made aware of the theft charge against Darling but decided the incident did not warrant a suspension.
According to Dickson, Darling said he had been given the permit by a former WSU student who had left school and did not know it was stolen.
“The thing we recognized was when he did find out about it he turned himself in when he heard another kid was going to be charged,” Dickson said. “He said it was a parking permit that somebody had given him.
“In this case, you believe the kid. He’s a good kid who just didn’t make a smart choice. We looked into it and we’re satisfied that appropriate steps have been taken and it didn’t include a suspension.”
Dickson said he considered the theft incident closed as far as further university action was concerned.
A check with district court officials late Monday failed to determine whether an arraignment date had been set for either of the charges against Darling.