SALINE, Mich. (AP) — Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint pleaded guilty Tuesday to drunken driving while his availability for Saturday night’s showdown with No. 2 Alabama remained unknown.
Toussaint made a brief appearance in Washtenaw County District Court, pleading guilty to operating a vehicle while visibly impaired after being charged with the more serious operating while intoxicated. He faces up to 93 days in jail when he is sentenced Oct. 23, just after Michigan hosts Michigan State and prior to its game at Nebraska.
Toussaint didn’t comment to the media and his attorney, Douglas Lewis, told reporters to “take a hike” outside the courtroom.
Coach Brady Hoke hasn’t said whether Toussaint will play for the eighth-ranked Wolverines against defending champion Alabama on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas. Hoke isn’t expected to address Toussaint’s status for the opener any sooner than Wednesday when he meets with the media.
Toussaint, who ran for more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a sophomore, was suspended after his arrest last month. Hoke reinstated him to participate in the second week of preseason practice.
Toussaint was listed as the starter on this week’s depth chart. If he sits for the opener, returning running backs Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, Justice Hayes along with newcomers Dennis Norfleet and Drake Johnson all could see action against the Crimson Tide.
“Whenever you’re in this position, you’ve got to make decisions that are best for the program,” Hoke said. “That doesn’t mean for one specific team. That means for the program. That means for the identity and the character of the program that you represent.
“Are they easy decisions? No. Are they decisions you want to make because you love the kids? No. But you have to make them.”
Crimson Tide linebacker Nico Johnson said he and his teammates are getting ready for anyone lined up behind or alongside quarterback Denard Robinson in the backfield.
“We’re prepared for (Toussaint) to play, we’re prepared for him not to play,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a game plan and that’s what we’re going to stick to.”
The 22-year-old Toussaint acknowledged in court that he was stopped for running a red light on July 21 after drinking an unknown quantity of brandy where he lives. Police said he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent, above the state limit of 0.08.
He arrived in a court several miles south of Michigan Stadium — wearing tan pants and a plaid, button-down shirt — with his attorney and associate athletic director Greg Harden.
Toussaint stood expressionless behind a lectern in court while a newspaper’s camera clicked and a TV station’s camera filmed him during a hearing that lasted nearly 5 minutes about jurisdiction for the case. Toussaint’s attorney then motioned for his client to go toward the door and they returned several minutes to finalize the plea deal.
Hoke said Monday that what happened with Toussaint in court wouldn’t affect his status with the team. He told reporters that Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark, who is accused of taking a laptop from a dorm room, are not done paying consequences while he decides whether their team-issued punishment will include missing at least the Alabama game.
“I’m comfortable with what I want to do, very comfortable with that,” Hoke said. “Talking to all of you guys about it, no, that’s not comfortable, because it’s talking about two kids who are sons to us and made bad decisions.”