Texas A&M Dismisses Darian Claiborne and Isaiah Golden from Football Program

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2014

USA Today

Darian Claiborne and Isaiah Golden, Texas A&M football players who were arrested in late February on different charges, were dismissed by the program on Tuesday, school officials announced.    

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee noted the pair's dismissal:

Steve Fullhart of KBTX-TV and Aggie Sports provide more details:

Claiborne and Golden, both sophomores, were arrested Feb. 23 after police approached a parked car both were sitting in along with wide receiver Speedy Noil. Golden, a defensive tackle, was charged with marijuana possession. Claiborne, a linebacker, was served a noise complaint.  

Both were indefinitely suspended following news of their arrests, but were largely expected to return to the program. Head coach Kevin Sumlin told Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com in March that he expected Golden, who withdrew from school, to be back this summer.

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

It's unclear what has changed over the past couple months. Neither has been publicly cited with any further wrongdoing, and the school did not specify why the pair were dismissed.

"These two individuals have failed to meet the high expectations and standards that we have for our football players and as representatives of this university,” Sumlin said in a statement, per Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News. “These two players have exhibited a pattern of behavior that we will not tolerate at Texas A&M."

The news comes as a significant blow to the Aggies' 2014 defense. Claiborne and Golden both started as freshmen last season and were expected to be integral fixtures in an improved front seven.

Claiborne recorded 89 total tackles (seven for loss) and made 1.5 sacks. Considered a 3-star recruit by 247Sports' composite rankings, Claiborne's on-the-field production far exceeded expectation. Texas A&M often struggled defensively in 2013, but Claiborne gained valuable experience that could have begun paying dividends next season.

The February incident was his second run-in with police in a three-month span. He was also arrested last December on charges of possession of a dangerous drug and possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. Sumlin suspended him for the Aggies' Chick-fil-A Bowl win against Duke.

Eric Gay/Associated Press

Golden was the more high-profile of the pair, coming into College Station with 4-star hype and garnering considerable playing time. He made 32 tackles (three for loss) and seemed a lock to start again in 2014. While fellow class of 2013 defensive tackle Justin Manning was ranked higher by most recruiting services, it was Golden who avoided the freshman redshirt.

Both players are eligible to transfer to other schools. They will be subject to NCAA transfer rules, however, meaning they would have to sit out a year if picked up by a Division I school. Because they did not redshirt in 2013, Claiborne and Golden will have three years of eligibility remaining.

As for Texas A&M, seeing Sumlin take a hard-line stance is promising—even if something about the timing is amiss. The Aggies coach's control of his program has often come into question over the last year, starting with the media frenzy surrounding Johnny Manziel and continuing with the increase in off-the-field incidents from players.

Sumlin is one of the most promising young coaches at any level and a gifted recruiter. Having off-the-field incidents derail one of the best up-and-coming programs in the nation is apparently not an option. We'll just have to see whether defensive coordinator Mark Snyder can help mitigate the loss of talent walking out the door.

Nevertheless, this is a strong message from Sumlin and the A&M program.


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