An early-morning incident in an Old Market parking lot has led UNO to dismiss Matt White from the hockey team. The co-captain was the team's third-leading goal-scorer last season.
Also dismissed from the team Friday was incoming freshman defenseman Preston Hodge. Alex Simonson, a senior forward, has been suspended pending further investigation by the athletic department.
White, Hodge and Simonson were each ticketed Aug. 3 on suspicion of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Allegedly the incident involved racial slurs.
“We are extremely disappointed in the actions of these students,” UNO Athletic Director Trev Alberts said in a press release. “We will not tolerate any misconduct of this nature. We will continue to work diligently to ensure our student-athletes understand the importance of tolerance and respect for others.”
The UNO athletic department said it was unaware of the incident until Thursday, when contacted by The World-Herald.
Alberts' statement said the dismissals and suspension came after an internal investigation, which included a discussion with Omaha police.
Witnesses told police that the hockey players had been harassing a small group of African-Americans with racial slurs and epithets around 2 a.m. Aug. 3.
The situation escalated and Hodge allegedly pushed Lamar Triplett, 26, of Omaha. Triplett said he responded by hitting Hodge and knocking him to the ground. Hodge hit his head and appeared to lose consciousness, according to a police report.
Police said White threw a punch at Triplett but missed, and Simonson began pushing members of Triplett's group.
Alberts declined to comment further. Maverick hockey coach Dean Blais is out of town and declined to comment. So did White when reached by telephone.
White, 25, a professional hockey prospect from Whittier, Calif., who also played three seasons for the Omaha Lancers, had 47 goals and 52 assists in three seasons with UNO. He's seventh on the school's all-time goals list and third all time with 0.41 goals per game. He's tied for 14th in points (99) and tied for 15th in assists.
It's the third straight year the Mavs unexpectedly lost at least one of their key players just before the season.
Captain Alex Hudson was suspended for the early portion of the 2011-12 season, returned briefly, then eventually was dismissed permanently for another violation of team rules.
Before last season, high-scoring forwards Terry Broadhurst and Jayson Megna each left for pro hockey — Broadhurst skipped his senior season and left in March, while Megna turned pro in July with three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Hodge, 21, from Bloomington, Ill., was a late addition to the UNO recruiting class this spring. He played the past two seasons in the USHL.
Simonson, 23, from Grand Forks, N.D., has typically suited up for about half of the Mavs' games and has two career points in 51 games, both on assists last season.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the allegations against the players.