DeKALB – Eugene German, a junior guard who starred for the Northern Illinois University basketball team last season, faces battery charges stemming from an incident in May in which he is accused of throwing eggs at two women, a source close to the investigation told the Daily Chronicle on Tuesday.
NIU athletics officials said Monday that German, of the 800 block of Fotis Drive in DeKalb, had been suspended from competition in the wake of shoplifting charges against him becoming public. They did not address the battery charges against German, for which he was arrested in August, court records show.
Jeremy Reid, a director of communications within the athletic department, said the department won’t generally comment on charges against student-athletes. He added that German was facing discipline from the team for the battery charges.
“No one asked (about the battery charge), so it hadn’t come up,” Reid said. “Legally, what we can say, I’m not a lawyer, but there’s an issue with students’ rights and what their privacy is, so it’s why we don’t spit out info as it happens. We have to be cognizant of all that as well.”
German scored 20.6 points a game and led the Mid-American Conference in scoring in 2017-18. He was set to return for his junior season after testing NBA draft waters.
In the battery incident, the Chronicle’s source said German and two others, who have not been charged with any crime, were riding bicycles when eggs were thrown at women in the 900 block of Lucinda Avenue about 12:30 a.m. May 5. He was arrested by NIU police in August and charged with four counts of battery against two female victims.
German is due in DeKalb County court at 9 a.m. Thursday on the battery charges. He has not yet filed a plea, court records show.
The battery charges came to light after the shoplifting arrest. Police said German, along with two teammates, Zaire Mateen, 20, of the 500 block of North Annie Glidden Road; and Dante Thorpe, 24, of the 700 block of Fotis Drive, were charged with retail theft, a local ordinance violation that carries a potential fine of $300. Police said the three were shopping at Walmart, 2300 Sycamore Road, when they left several items in their cart while checking out and did not pay for them. The items had a value of less than $50, DeKalb police Cmdr. Steve Lekkas said.
He said a self-checkout clerk got suspicious and alerted security, which then provided video to police.
“It’s a disappointing and bad decision, regardless,” Lekkas said.
Lekkas said after the NIU Athletic Department was notified, the three men turned themselves in and didn’t have to post any bail, because it’s merely an ordinance violation, which can be settled by Dec. 17 with a payment of $300 apiece.
“Everybody was cooperative,” Lekkas said.
NIU men’s hoops coach Mark Montgomery was not made available for comment Tuesday, but he issued a statement Monday:
“We are aware of the incident involving three members of our program and are very disappointed in their actions as they do not reflect the high standards that we have for our student-athletes. As a result, each of these three student-athletes has been suspended indefinitely from competition.”
Thorpe is a returning senior player who averaged 10.8 points in 28 games last season.
Mateen is a recent transfer from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming who averaged 17.6 points a game last season.
• Daily Chronicle Sports Editor Eddie Carifio contributed to this report.