On July 25, Michigan football player Justin Feagin was quietly dismissed from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Two days later, an arrest was made in the West Quad arson case after four months of investigation. LSA senior Timothy James Burke claimed his reason for setting the fire was to send a message after a failed drug deal.
According to an Aug. 9 Detroit Free Press article, Burke’s failed drug deal directly involved Feagin, who had a contact in Florida with cocaine. The article cited police reports that were obtained under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.
“I told him that I knew someone who could get him some cocaine,” Feagin told investigators cited in the police reports obtained by the Free Press. “A few days later he asked me if I had talked to the person yet. I called right then and set up a deal.”
According to the article, Burke intended on setting a fire to scare Feagin near his West Quad room in Adams House after repeated threats over the phone and in text messages. Feagin and his cousin then threatened Burke.
The article further states that after the four-month investigation, one of Burke’s housemates called police to inform them that the arsonist in question was Burke. Two days later, Feagin was brought in for questioning and described the cocaine deal.
The article does not mention any criminal charges being brought against Feagin.
Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez released a statement on Sunday explaining Feagin’s dismissal.
“I dismissed Justin Feagin the moment that I was provided information contrary to our team policies,” Rodriguez said.
The Michigan Daily contacted an Athletic Department spokesman and he declined further comment.
According to University Department of Public Safety Spokeswoman Diane Brown, DPS has not issued a police report because the case is still under investigation.
“We are not releasing the police report at this time because it is an open investigation and DPS did not release the police report to the Free Press,” Brown said.
In a July 27 DPS crime alert cancellation e-mail, University Police said that they “(have) reason to believe that Burke set the fire in an attempt to scare another student with whom he had a disagreement over a drug deal.” The e-mail also stated, though, that “the intended victim did not live in the area of the fire.”
According to Brown, Burke pleaded guilty to one count of arson at his preliminary exam on Wednesday and will be sentenced Sept. 16. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Feagin and Burke could not be reached for comment.