ORONO, Maine — Jovan Belcher suffered a cut on his hand when he punched a window during his freshman year at the University of Maine, according to a former teammate.
University officials were preparing to release a statement regarding the incident Monday afternoon. No charges were filed in the 2006 incident, which occurred because Belcher was upset over a woman.
Belcher, 25, made national headlines Saturday when he fatally shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, then later committed suicide with a handgun in Kansas City. He was in his fourth season as a linebacker for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
One of Belcher’s former teammates, Mike Brusko, also played for the Black Bears from 2005-2008. He confirmed Belcher was involved in an incident during which he suffered a cut on his hand.
“He had an incident where he did do that,” said a reluctant Brusko, who said he is still reeling from the news about Belcher’s murder-suicide.
“I have at least two or three other friends who have done exactly the same thing,” he added. “I know all of them and I would only have ever attributed that to a bad decision that was influenced by alcohol.”
Brusko said the situation, which stemmed from what he termed immaturity and some intoxication, occurred during their freshman season (2005-06).
“He wasn’t the only person drinking that night,” he added. “I’ve made a hundred decisions like that that I’d like to take back. Nobody ever would have taken that incident and turned it into some sort of foreshadowing of what he would [ultimately] do.”
At UMaine, Belcher took part in a for-credit class called Male Athletes Against Violence during the fall semester in 2007, according to a statement that was issued by the university in response to a request for an interview with Dr. Sandra L. Caron, professor of family relations and human sexuality.
“MAAV is an effort to involve men so that we can begin to understand that violence is very much a ‘man’s issue,’” the statement said.
The project, founded in the fall of 2004 by Caron, is modeled after her nationally recognized peer education program, Athletes for Sexual Responsibility.
The university statement said the students who enroll are typically varsity athletes.
“The students are involved in peer education efforts on campus that focus on issues of masculinity and violence,” the statement read. “The group often sponsors information tables to raise awareness and encourage college-age men to sign the Male Athletes Against Violence pledge card.”
When asked about Belcher’s participation in the class, UMaine issued the following statement on Caron’s behalf.
“This is a tragedy beyond comprehension and completely at odds with what the Male Athletes Against Violence peer education program stands for,” Caron said. “Our deepest
sympathies are with Jovan and Kasandra’s loved ones.”
At UMaine, Belcher earned a degree in child development and family relations in 2009 and completed his academic course work in 3½ years, according to head football coach Jack Cosgrove.
During his time in Orono, he also participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in Greater Bangor. In that capacity, Belcher spent time with some local youths who were in need of a male role model.
“I often saw Jovan with underprivileged kids,” Brusko said. “I can remember him bringing kids around the football facility and showing them around and being a mentor to them.”
Belcher, a three-time, All-America wrestler from West Babylon, N.Y., went largely unrecruited for football but signed to play at UMaine.
As a senior in 2008, Belcher was named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year and was selected as a consensus first-team All-American. He signed a free-agent contract with the Chiefs in 2009.
In March, he signed a one-year contract worth $1.9 million, according to published reports.