Was Wisconsin star Montee Ball the victim of a completely random attack?
There's still no definitive answer, but new information suggests he wasn't. Madison police announced Saturday that several Wisconsin players were involved in a fight that took place days before Ball was attacked by five men. According to police, Ball was present at the location of the fight, although no evidence points to his involvement. One person sustained an injury during the fight, which began late July 27 and spilled into July 28, and was treated at a local hospital.
Although police called the assault on Ball early Wednesday an "unprovoked attack," they also continued to investigate whether the senior running back had been targeted.
Here's the updated incident report from the Madison Police Department. It states that several persons of interest have been identified in relation to the Ball attack. Detectives have interviewed several football players and have received full cooperation from Wisconsin's athletic department.
From the report:
It is important to note that in a high profile case such as this, we should reserve judgment and limit the amount of misinformation that is disseminated, as it does not help the investigation that is being conducted by The Madison Police Department. Chief [Noble] Wray has stated, "Although Montee Ball was assaulted on a public street, this incident does not fit the pattern of random violence that we have seen in recent weeks in downtown Madison."
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema plans to spend extra time addressing off-field conduct Monday when he addresses the team before the start of fall camp. Bielema told WISC-TV in Madison that he pulled aside several team leaders because of information police had told him.
"We always have a message to our players," Bielema told the station. "Always have an awareness of where you're at, who you're around. I think as Madison has evolved here ... our players have got to make sure they understand there are some changes."