By Tim Leeds
An unprecedented attack on a football official at the end of a Montana State University-Northern Lights' football game culminated with a guilty plea today in Hill County Justice Court.
Marlon Grier, a 24-year-old senior linebacker at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, pleaded guilty to assaulting an official, a charge filed after the game between the Lights and Rocky Mountain's Battlin' Bears. According to witnesses, Grier ran about 60 yards and hit umpire Rick Deady in the back with his forearm, knocking Deady to the ground, after Rocky Mountain's overtime loss to the Lights. The game was played Nov. 10.
Hill County Attorney David Rice said Grier had no prior record, and that he received many letters attesting to Grier's good character.
"The kid's got some work to do, but he seems to be a decent kid whose emotions got the best of him," Rice said after Grier's court appearance.
Judge Carol Chagnon sentenced Grier to a six-month deferred jail sentence and a suspended $300 fine. The sentence means Grier will spend no time in jail and won't have to pay the fine if he abides by conditions attached to the sentence. He also must pay $45 in fees and $107.48 in restitution, must submit a written apology to the official approved by Rice, and perform 50 hours of community service. He must attend anger management counseling, which also must be approved by Rice. Rice said Grier has already attended some counseling.
If Grier violates any conditions of the sentence, he could be sentenced to the maximum for the charge a $1,000 fine and up to six months in prison. If he follows the conditions of the sentencing, the offenses will be removed from his record in six months.
Rocky Mountain's athletic director, Terry Corey, said today that Grier has lost his work-study job in the college's athletic department and has been banned from receiving any post-season honors this year. Grier received all-conference honors the previous two seasons.
"He regrets his actions and it's going to haunt him for a long time," Corey said.
Corey said Grier graduated from Rocky last week. Grier had to undergo an evaluation by the college's counseling department before he was allowed to graduate.
Officials from the National Association of Sports Officials and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics said after the incident they didn't know of any other time a player had attacked an official at a NAIA game.
Officials called back two touchdowns the Bears made in the game, one in regular play and one in the initial possession in overtime, before Northern won with a field goal. Deady said in an interview that he didn't know why Grier hit him. He wasn't the official who had called back either of the touchdowns and didn't recall making any calls against Grier, he said.