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3 Pitt football players charged with simple assault to remain on active roster

| Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, 12:54 a.m.
Pitt running back Ray Graham said NFL teams shouldn't put too much stock into his relatively slow 40-yard dash time. (James Knox | Tribune-Review)
Pitt defensive back Lafayette Pitts defends during practice on the South Side Aug. 11, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
University of Pittsburgh wide reciever Devin Street goes through drills during the first spring practice at the teams facility on the South Side Thursday March 15, 2012. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | James Knox
Pitt running back Ray Graham cuts back on Temple's Abdul Smith in the first half Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, at Heinz Field. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Three Pitt starting football players who were charged with misdemeanor simple assault, including the team's top rusher and receiver, will remain on the active roster for Saturday's game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., the university's athletic department said Friday.

Senior running back Raymond E. Graham, 22, of Elizabeth, N.J.; receiver Devin C. Street, 21, of Bethlehem; and defensive back Lafayette E. Pitts, 20, of East Pittsburgh were charged Thursday by Pittsburgh police in connection with an Oct. 21 incident.

“These individuals have denied any involvement with the situation and have offered to speak with authorities, although to date they have not been questioned or received any court documents,” said a university statement.

Graham leads the Panthers with 622 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Street has 50 catches for 695 yards and four touchdowns. Pitts leads the team in kickoff returns.

The players have not been arrested but were mailed summonses to appear in Pittsburgh Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing Jan. 9.

“We take matters of player discipline very seriously and will continue to cooperate with any investigation,” the university statement said. “However, we will not, and hope others will not, rush to judgment on these misdemeanor allegations. All three players will remain active members of our program while we gain more clarity on the situation.”

Karl Olsheski told police he was walking with friends on Oakland Avenue when a group of Pitt football players came into their path about 12:30 a.m., according to a criminal complaint. Graham blocked his way, Street stood in front of him, and Pitts was behind him. Street hit him once on the left side of the head, the complaint said.

In separate photo arrays, witnesses picked out Street, Graham and Pitts.

The charges come when it seemed things had settled for the Panthers football program after a tumultuous period that saw multiple player arrests and numerous coaching changes.

A report released by Sports Illustrated in March 2011 found that 22 Pitt football players had engaged in criminal incidents — more than any school in the magazine's 2010 preseason Top 25.

Four players, including All-Big East defensive end Jabaal Sheard, were involved in incidents between mid-July and late September 2010.

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson at the time called the SI report “unacceptable” and promised to “get this fixed.”

Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed. Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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