QB Stark suspended in betting probe Injured Ravens rookie met with Tagliabue on Nov. 25, banned on 26th

He can't use team facilities

'We're not sure if he bet on any games at all'

December 03, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens reserve rookie quarterback Jon Stark has been suspended indefinitely with pay while the team and the NFL conduct an investigation into his possible violation of league rules regarding gambling.

League commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Stark on Nov. 25 and informed him the next day that the Ravens had been directed to place him on administrative leave with pay until further notice.

During this period, Stark will not be permitted to use the team's training facility for meetings, practice or any other reasons, said league spokesman Greg Aiello.

Stark also cannot travel with the team, participate in team functions or have other contact with members of the Ravens' organization.

"At this time, there is not an indication he bet on NFL games," said Aiello.

"We're not sure if he bet on any games at all, like college football or basketball," said Kevin Byrne, a team spokesman. "We believe it's an isolated case, and the league will continue its investigation."

Stark, the team's seventh-round draft pick, referred all questions to his Cincinnati-based attorney, Hal Arenstein, who was unavailable for comment. Stark's agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to comment.

According to Byrne, the Ravens first learned about Stark's possible rules violation several weeks ago from an anonymous phone call, and the team notified the league while conducting its own investigation.

"It's under investigation right now, and you have to give Jon Stark the benefit of the doubt until it's over," said Ravens owner Art Modell. "The whole thing is in competent hands here and in New York."

Stark, 23, has not practiced with the team since the rookie minicamp in April, when he injured his shoulder. He was declared physically unable to perform upon signing in July for training camp, and has spent most of his time going through rehabilitation at the team's Owings Mills headquarters.

Stark, 6 feet 3 and 222 pounds, was the 238th player chosen in the draft after a successful senior year at Trinity International College. Stark set school records by completing 228 of 458 passes for 3,142 yards and 21 touchdowns, earning NAIA Division II All-America third team honors.

His coach at Trinity International, Leslie Frazier, seemed surprised to hear about the investigation. He said he spoke with Stark early yesterday morning, but his former quarterback didn't mention anything about pending troubles.

"We talked about him returning to school here because he needed only one class to graduate," said Frazier. "He didn't say anything about an investigation, and I'm very surprised by that.

"I'm just hoping and praying that all of this is a rumor," he said. "Jon wasn't with us very long, but he didn't seem to have any problems off the field. I thought he got along with others very well."

Trinity International was the third college stop for Stark. He redshirted his freshman year at Liberty University in 1991 and transferred to Florida State after the season. He had to sit out the 1992 season, and spent 1993 and 1994 backing up Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and later Danny Kanell.

Mark Richt, Florida State's quarterbacks coach, said: "We weren't aware of any problems he had here. I'd say he never had one.

"He was a tough competitor, who ate, drank and slept football," he said. "He took it hard when he didn't beat out Danny Kanell for the job, but any kid would. We had no complaints with Jon."

Pub Date: 12/03/96

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