Coach Rich Rodriguez said Sunday night that he’s aware that Ellis Lankster and J.T. Thomas of the West Virginia University football squad reportedly were involved in an off-campus situation Saturday night.

In a short statement released by the school, he said:

“I am aware that Ellis and J.T. have been involved in an off-campus situation. I am investigating at this time and will make the determination about their status within the football program after all the facts are in.”

Rodriguez declined further comment at this time.

Neither of the two players was with teammates and coaches at Fan Day festivities on Sunday afternoon at the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility. An estimated 5,000 people showed up to meet the squad and obtain autographs.

Langster is a 5-10, 190-pound cornerback from Whistler, Ala. He enrolled last January after graduating from Jones County Junior College in Mississippi.

Thomas is a 6-2, 220-pound redshirt freshman linebacker from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His father, also J.T., was an outstanding Mountaineer linebacker in 1994-95.

Both players were listed in the 2007 pre-fall depth chart, Thomas as a starter and Lankster as a probable backup.

In his daily post-practice briefing after Saturday’s camp-closing scrimmage, Rodriguez told the media that his players would be on an 11 p.m. curfew that day. He said he cautions them that he didn’t want any late-night trouble calls.

He said, “Any coach will tell you, when school starts, you have a lot of distractions. We have 27,500 students, and over half of them are females. You got distractions.

“You have to become a student-athlete. Go to class, go to study hall, tutors. I talked to the freshmen about that because they are moving into dorms. I talked to the Apostles, our senior leaders, about what they are supposed to do.

“I can’t follow 130 guys around campus 24 hours a day. They have to make the right decisions and keep their focus. We talked about that at length. … Every year you worry about that.”

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