KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee wide receiver Von Pearson was suspended indefinitely from all team activities after he was identified as a suspect in an alleged rape that occurred in the early-morning hours Friday.
According to a release from the Knoxville Police Department, the alleged incident, reported to authorities at 6 a.m. Friday by a 19-year-old Tennessee student, occurred at the University Walk Apartments near the campus.
During an initial investigation, KPD investigators interviewed the alleged victim and six witnesses, and the investigation "is in the early stages and is ongoing," according to Deputy Chief of Police Gary Holliday.
No charges have been filed against Pearson and no arrests have been made in connection to the incident, but Pearson's suspension was confirmed Friday afternoon via text message by Jimmy Stanton, Tennessee's associate athletic director for communication.
The standard operating procedure for the Volunteers under third-year coach Butch Jones with off-field incidents has been to suspend players while the legal process runs its course.
According to an incident report from the KPD, the alleged incident took place between 3 and 4 a.m. Friday. Two other players, receiver Alton "Pig" Howard and defensive end Dimarya Mixon, were among the witnesses interviewed by KPD investigators. More information will be released when it becomes available, according to Holliday.
The alleged incident and Pearson's absence will overshadow today's Orange and White Game, which wraps up Tennessee's spring practice.
The 23-year-old Pearson graduated from Denbigh High School in Newport News, Va., in 2010 and was out of football, working at a McDonald's and Busch Gardens in his hometown, before winding up at Feather River College in California, where he played two seasons and caught 93 passes for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013.
After enrolling at Tennessee last January, Pearson caught 38 passes for 393 yards and led the Vols with five touchdown receptions in 11 games in 2014.
In November, two Tennessee players, linebacker A.J. Johnson and cornerback Michael Williams, also were suspended amid a police investigation into an alleged rape and sexual assault. The two former players were indicted on two counts of aggravated rape by a grand jury in February. Both subsequently turned themselves in and were released on $40,000 bond.
Both Johnson and Williams pleaded not guilty to those charges in March, and that trial is set for August.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.