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University of Maine football player Ramon Jefferson, who in May pleaded guilty to criminal mischief at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, is leaving the program.
According to a UMaine athletics press release, the running back from the Bronx, New York, who had spent two years at the university, is transferring to another school.
“Ramon has been granted his release [from his National Letter of Intent commitment] to pursue other opportunities, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” head coach Nick Charlton said in the release.
UMaine spokeswoman Margaret Nagle said the university does not comment on student conduct proceedings.
Jefferson on Friday confirmed his decision to transfer.
“It was a very difficult decision for me,” Jefferson said. “It had nothing to do with the coaches or the players. They know I love them. We were all a big family. The coaching staff was very kind to me, and I learned a lot of things from them.
“But I just felt it was in my best interest to get a fresh start,” Jefferson said.
The 19-year-old Jefferson pleaded guilty on May 8 to criminal mischief, a Class D crime, and was fined $250. He also was ordered to pay $500 in restitution to replace a broken cell phone.
In a plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office, a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence criminal threatening in connection with a Feb. 6 incident in Bangor was dismissed.
Bangor police originally charged Jefferson with domestic violence assault and criminal mischief, both Class D crimes. After reviewing the case, the district attorney’s office substituted the criminal threatening count for the assault charge.
Jefferson faced up to a year in prison and fines of up to $2,000 on both charges.
Jefferson was suspended from the football team by the university after his arrest, pending an investigation into his alleged violation of UMaine’s student code of conduct and its student-athlete code of conduct. He was not allowed to participate in the Black Bears’ spring workouts.
Jefferson explained that when he sought his release, he had not been dismissed from school and UMaine officials had not made a decision about when, or if, his suspension would be lifted. His transfer makes that process moot.
He said he has not targeted another school or football program. If he pursues another Division I school, he will have to sit out one year under NCAA transfer rules.
“I’m open to anything right now,” Jefferson said.
Since he sat out his first year at UMaine (2017-18), he has two years of athletic eligibility remaining. If he transfers to a Division II or Division III school, he would be eligible immediately.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Jefferson rushed for 1,037 yards on 182 carries with eight touchdowns last season. He averaged 86.4 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.
He ranked second in the Colonial Athletic Association in rushing yards, fourth in rushing yards per game, sixth in touchdowns (9) and ninth in all-purpose yards (90.6 ypg). He ran for a career-high 186 yards in 26 carries during UMaine’s 55-27 Football Championship Subdivision playoff win over Jacksonville State.
Jefferson helped lead the Black Bears to a 10-4 record, a CAA title and the first FCS semifinal appearance in school history.
“I’ll always remember the CAA championship. It will be a lasting memory,” Jefferson said.
He is the second 1,000-yard rusher to transfer from UMaine in 14 months.
All-American Josh Mack, who ran for 1,335 yards in 2017, transferred to Football Bowl Subdivision team Liberty University. He will be eligible when UMaine visits Liberty on Oct. 19.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.