NDSU football player charged with felony after fight
FARGO – A standout North Dakota State University football player was charged Monday with felony aggravated assault, accused of beating a man unconscious in a downtown Fargo street after the bars let out early Sunday.
Travis Beck, 21, is accused of striking 24-year-old Matthew Aanenson several times, knocking him unconscious in the 600 block of NP Avenue, according to a Fargo police report.
Fargo police Deputy Chief Pat Claus said Aanenson was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center with unknown injuries to his head. A Sanford spokesperson said Aanenson was not a patient there as of Monday afternoon.
Beck faces a Class C felony charge of aggravated assault, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
Beck was suspended from the team pending further information, head coach Craig Bohl said in a Monday written statement:
“Due to the serious nature of the charge of violence, Travis Beck will go through the university judicial process as a student, and as an athlete will be suspended indefinitely from team activities pending further information. Bison football has a zero tolerance for acts of violence.”
Bohl later reiterated his statement and would not comment further.
Police responding to calls about a downtown fight after 2 a.m. Sunday said they found Aanenson on the ground and unconscious. Several witnesses said Beck was the aggressor in the fight.
Police called for Beck to return to the scene, as he was walking away. When he didn’t do as ordered, a police sergeant ran after him and struggled with him during the arrest.
Beck later told police he kept walking because he was scared.
According to the police report, witnesses said Beck and Aanenson started arguing in the Sports Bar on NP Avenue. They later met outside and continued to argue.
Beck told police Aanenson tried “to push or punch him.” Beck said he hit back until Aanenson fell to the ground, according to the police report.
Beck was also punched and was bleeding from the mouth.
Police said a third man, Mitchell Havig, struck Beck, but said Havig did so to stop Beck from attacking Aanenson.
Beck was taken to the Sanford emergency room to be checked out before being released and booked into jail, where he remained Monday.
Aanenson did not remember anything about the assault, the report said.
It was the second time Beck has had a run-in with the law during his NDSU career. Last fall, he was fined $325 and sentenced to 40 hours of community service after pleading guilty to underage drinking. A charge of resisting a police officer was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
The felony assault charge for a Bison football player is a first in Bohl’s 10 years at NDSU.
A phone message left Monday at Beck’s family home in Calio, N.D., was not returned. Attempts to talk to Beck during evening visiting hours at the Cass County Jail were unsuccessful.
No phone number for Aanenson could be found and a message left with Havig was not returned.
The Forum requested from Fargo police video surveillance footage of the incident from the new public cameras stationed on that stretch of NP Avenue. Police denied that request, saying that video is part of their ongoing investigation.
A starting linebacker for the Bison, Beck finished second on the team in tackles last season with 98, including nine for lost yardage. He had three quarterback sacks and forced four fumbles.
Beck is probably best known for being the most valuable player in the 2011 Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game, a victory that was the first of NDSU’s back-to-back national titles.
Known for his speed and toughness, he played every down of the 14-1 season in 2012 that ended with a 39-13 win over Sam Houston State (Texas) in Frisco, Texas, last January.
Article written by Jeff Kolpack of the Forum News Service