The father of one of three UW-Madison students accused of attacking Badgers running back Montee Ball said Thursday that his "heart fell out" when he learned his son had been arrested.

"If he was involved, he's going to man up and deal with what he has to deal with," said Robert Wilks Sr., of Milwaukee.

His son, Robert A. Wilks, along with Deonte J. Wilson and Wendell J. Venerable, all 21, were arrested Tuesday on tentative charges of being party to substantial battery for the Aug. 1 attack on Ball while he was walking home on University Avenue.

Ball, considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy in the coming season, suffered a concussion and missed the first week of preseason camp.

At bail hearings Thursday, all three were released on signature bonds and ordered not to have contact with Ball or each other and not to drink any alcoholic beverages.

Venerable and Wilson are roommates, their attorneys said, and Wilks is a friend of Wilson.

Charges have not yet been filed, but the three were ordered to return to court for initial appearances on Sept. 10.

No new information about the attack was presented in court.

Police have said Ball was jumped by five people at about 2:15 a.m. attacking the 500 block of University Avenue as Ball was walking home after leaving State Street Brats.

They said the attack on Ball might have been precipitated by a fight at a July 27 house party that involved UW-Madison students, members of the Badgers football team and other people authorities said were not affiliated with the Athletic Department. Ball has said he was at the party but was not involved in the fight.

Wilks Sr. said his son had not talked with him about the attack on Ball nor about the fight at the July 27 house party, and he knew no details about the attack or his son's arrest.

"I'm glad that they're letting him out so I can get to him," he said.

"My son, he's a great kid. He's a responsible kid," he said. "He's been an exemplary student."

According to UW-Madison, Wilks is a junior majoring in economics. Wilson is a senior in electrical engineering, and Venerable is a senior with no major listed.

University officials said they cannot comment on disciplinary actions involving specific students. If a student is found to have violated university codes of conduct, sanctions can range from a meeting with a dean or a letter in their file up to suspension or expulsion.

Wilks Sr. said his son works two jobs — as a cook and a bouncer — Downtown, and has not had problems with the law before.

"His nose is clean," he said.

He said his son played football in high school and in his freshman year at Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., but has not played football at UW, to which he transferred his sophomore year.

Wilks Sr. said he and his wife, Wyetta, came to Madison from Milwaukee on Wednesday after learning about their son's arrest. He said his first reaction was, "Are you (expletive) kidding me?"

"This is truly out of his character," Wyetta Wilks said.

Wilks Sr. said that if his son and the others arrested were involved in the attack on Ball, he said, "They just made a very bad decision."

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