Rutgers: Nelson dismissed from football program
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Rutgers dismissed quarterback Philip Nelson from its football program after he was charged in an assault that left another man critically injured, while authorities announced Tuesday that a second suspect has been arrested.
Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood announced Nelson’s dismissal Tuesday in a statement. Nelson, a high school football star in Mankato, was a quarterback for Minnesota but transferred to Rutgers.
He was charged Monday with two counts of felony assault in a weekend fight that left Isaac Dallas Kolstad, 24, severely injured. Authorities say Nelson, 20, kicked Kolstad in the head after another man punched Kolstad as bars were closing early Sunday in downtown Mankato.
The incident was captured on surveillance cameras, and authorities said Tuesday that they have arrested the man whom they believe punched Kolstad. The 21-year-old man was expected to be charged Wednesday.
Nelson’s attorney has said his client was not the aggressor and that it’s not clear who caused Kolstad’s injuries.
Nelson, who is out of jail on bail, did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.
Kolstad’s family said on its CaringBridge website that Kolstad had surgery Tuesday morning, which went well, and he was still critical. Kolstad is a former linebacker at Minnesota State, Mankato.
According to the criminal complaint, Nelson was upset after a bouncer at a bar tried to kiss his girlfriend.
The complaint said Nelson and his girlfriend were walking outside when they ran into Kolstad, and the two began arguing.
Kolstad’s friend told police that Kolstad hit Nelson in the upper back, and video shows Nelson fell onto the ground. Kolstad was leaving when another man punched Kolstad, knocking him down. After Kolstad was punched, he went limp and collapsed to the pavement, according to the complaint.
Nelson ran to Kolstad, who was “lying on the street and not moving and appeared to be defenseless,” the complaint said. Nelson then kicked Kolstad in the head and walked away, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Nelson told police he did not remember kicking Kolstad in the head.
The complaint said Kolstad’s injuries include bleeding of brain, a skull fracture and brain shifting. Preliminary information shows the fracture is on the left side of Kolstad’s head, where he was kicked.
Nelson was a top recruit when he came out of Mankato West as the state’s Mr. Football in 2011, and spent much of his first two seasons as the Gophers’ starter. He played in 11 games last season, but announced afterward that he would transfer to Rutgers and what he said was a more pass-friendly offense. He threw for 1,306 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions last season and ran for 364 yards.
Nelson would have had two seasons of eligibility left after sitting out next season.
Kolstad played at Mankato East and spent two seasons at North Dakota State before finishing his career at Minnesota State, Mankato.
Rutgers did not comment beyond the statement from Flood.
“The Rutgers football family’s thoughts and prayers are with Isaac Kolstad and his family,” the coach said in announcing Nelson’s dismissal.