MSU-Mankato LB Isaac Kolstad in critical condition after assault - KMSP-TV

Former Gopher QB charged in assault, police seek additional suspect

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Isaac Kolstad Isaac Kolstad
Phillip Robert Nelson Phillip Robert Nelson
MANKATO, Minn. (KMSP) - Former University of Minnesota football quarterback Philip Nelson has been charged with first- and third-degree felony assault after being arrested on Sunday in connection with an incident that has former Minnesota State-Mankato linebacker Isaac Kolstad fighting for his life.

Nelson made his first court appearance on Monday, and was offered $75,000 bond without conditions or $20,000 bond with conditions. He posted his bond and was released from jail shortly before 7:30 p.m.

Photo by Paul Blume. Follow him on Twitter for more.

He is still enrolled at Rutgers and is allowed to leave the state of Minnesota.


The criminal complaint states that Nelson told police he doesn't remember doing anything to anyone, but video surveillance released by police reveals more about the incident.

"Mr. Kolstad is laying on the ground here. This is Mr. Nelson, this is the unidentified subject," Mankato Director of Public Safety Todd Miller said. "We are trying to figure out who it is."

Police are also asking the occupants of the white car seen in surveillance video to come forward and provide information on what they witnessed that night.


Charging documents detail an incident involving Nelson's girlfriend and a bar bouncer who apparently kissed her hand -- or attempted to prior to -- the assault and she told police that Nelson is very protective of her.

Witnesses to the assault say Nelson and Kolstad had a heated exchange of words before the situation escalated to violence, allegedly involving someone kissing Nelson's girlfriend. Kolstad apparently hit Nelson in the upper shoulder with a "non-fighting punch," but that's when a man in a red shirt and jeans struck him in the head and knocked him to the ground by the bus stop. A friend then saw Nelson kick Kolstad in the head once or twice.

Police found Kolstad at 2:09 a.m. Sunday morning near the intersection of Cherry and South Front streets in front of Blue Bricks Bar on a busy night of graduation celebrations. The 24-year-old remains in critical condition at Mayo Clinic Health System-Mankato.

Kolstad's injuries include a skull fracture, brain shifting, brain bleeding and lung damage. Kolstad's skull fracture is on the left side of his head, the same area where Nelson allegedly kicked him. Nelson smelled of alcohol after the alleged assault, charges say.

Both Nelson and Kolstad are Mankato natives. Nelson played in high school for Mankato West and Kolstad for Mankato East, though it's unclear if the two knew each other. Kolstad graduated from MSU-Mankato last December with a degree in business management and administration. He works as a sales representative for Fastenal. He is newly married and has two daughters.


Mankato police said three witnesses identified Nelson at the scene, but police are currently looking to identify the suspect who allegedly  threw a punch at Kolstad. He's described as a while man in his 20s wearing jeans and a red shirt that was torn during the incident. He can be seen fleeing in video footage and images made available online.

WATCH: Suspect flees Mankato assault | Mankato suspect caught on camera

Nelson told police neither he nor his girlfriend know the man police are seeking.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Mankato police at 507-387-8780.


Nelson, a top 2012 recruit, announced in January that he'd be transferring to Rutgers, one of the Big Ten's newest members.

Transfer rules dictate Nelson would be required to sit out the 2014 season but would have two years of eligibility remaining. He started 16 games in his two seasons for Minnesota and threw for 2,179 yards and 17 touchdowns, 548 yards and six touchdowns rushing.

Kolstad started in all 12 games for the Mavericks during the 2013 season and finished with 59 tackles, including 29 unassisted.


Kolstad's father has posted an update on Kolstad's CaringBridge website, and well wishes from family and friends have been pouring in.

"Isaac suffered a severe head injury early this morning. He is currently in Critical condition and fighting for his life. He is young and strong, but the battle he has in front of him is enormous. He had one surgery today to put a pressure gauge in his skull. He may need additional surgeries in the coming days. We do know that his brain did sustain permanent damage. We do not yet know to what extent and won't for many days. He is very sick. Please pray for Isaac and all of those involved."

The Kolstad family issued another statement on Monday:

We are overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the warmth, support, love and prayers we have received over the last several days. We feel it – Isaac feels it – and we cannot express how important and helpful that has been.

We remain at Isaac’s bedside, vigilant in our love and support and hopeful and prayerful – not only for him, our family, friends and well-wishers…..

We also extend our sincere thoughts and prayers to the Nelson family and others whose lives have been impacted by this situation.

We have been touched by the outpouring of love from the Mankato community and many others. We are particularly grateful for the support shown by the Minnesota State University Community – your vigil last night and all your prayers have touched our hearts and will remain with us.

We are thankful for the clinical expertise and compassionate care provided by Mayo Clinic here in Mankato. Everyone – the doctors, nurses, chaplains and support staff – have gone above and beyond for Isaac and our entire family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you do.

We would ask for your continued respect of our privacy during this time. The very best way anyone can help Isaac and us, his family, is to continue to offer your warm, positive thoughts and prayers.

Please keep in mind that behind the headlines – behind the police reports and medical data – is a strong, caring man. A man with incredible faith in God. A loving husband, a father of two daughters, a son, a brother, a teammate and a friend. Isaac is a well-respected member of the community and a hard-working team player, both on and off the field. We are proud of his many accomplishments.

Again, our family is grateful for everything you are doing in support of Isaac. We will have no further comment and have asked that no additional information – beyond his medical condition – be released until further notice. And ask that you respect our wishes.

Thank you.


Former Maverick and current Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen and MSU-Mankato athletic director Kevin Buisman tweeted their support after learning about the incident.

@athielen19: Please everyone keep @IsaacKolstad22 in your prayers! He is an amazing person and is a fighter and will get through this! Love ya bud

@MAV_dADdy01: #MavFam please keep Isaac and his family in your thoughts and prayers! #22Strong #PrayerIsPowerful #WeAreFamily

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