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Troubled UA frat denies it drugged film star: Allegation a publicity stunt, claims chapter on probation

Troubled UA frat denies it drugged film star: Allegation a publicity stunt, claims chapter on probation

A local fraternity is on thin ice with the University of Arizona after the brothers’ booze-fueled antics with the star of “Jackass” were captured on camera at an event that was supposed to be alcohol-free.

The Tucson chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was already on probation for past misconduct when actor Johnny Knoxville dropped in to shoot a promotional video and later claimed he was drugged during the party that ensued.

Knoxville said someone slipped Ecstasy into his beer, a claim he’s been making in media interviews and on late-night television, though he hasn’t made it directly to the UA, school officials said.

Knoxville has never named the fraternity, but UA knew because officials approved filming at the frat house at 1509 E. Second St.

The fraternity denies the allegation, saying Knoxville is pulling a stunt to fuel interest in his new film, “Bad Grandpa.”

“It is all a made-up hoax and a publicity stunt on his part!” TJ Howe, the chapter’s adviser, said in an email to the Star.

Howe wouldn’t comment on the fraternity’s track record of troublemaking before Knoxville came along.

The probation sanction, issued last school year, was the latest in a string of corrective actions imposed since 2009 for drunkenness, hazing, endangerment and other infractions, UA records show.

The latest sanction came with a sternly worded warning: If the fraternity caused any more trouble, further punishment “could include suspension or expulsion from the University of Arizona,” the records say.

Chrissy Lieberman, the UA’s associate dean of students, said the university approved the Sept. 6 video shoot at the frat house on condition no alcohol would be involved.

The dean’s office found out otherwise when the first clips started surfacing online, she said. An investigation confirmed there was drinking despite the booze ban.

Lieberman wouldn’t speculate on the chapter’s fate. She said the dean’s office is probing the drugging claim and will decide its next steps after weighing the evidence, likely over the next few weeks.

The UA has a recent history of tough action against troubled fraternities that don’t mend their ways.

Since early last year, four fraternity chapters have been shut down for chronic misconduct.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at or 573-4138.

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