published Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Arrested Vols include Smith

by Wes Rucker
  • photo
    Southern California's Nikola Vucevic, left, and Tennessee's Tyler Smith go after a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, in Los Angeles. USC won the game 77-55. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

KNOXVILLE -- A late-morning traffic stop Friday near the University of Tennessee campus ended with four UT men's basketball players arrested for misdemeanor drug and weapons possession charges.

Senior All-Southeastern Conference forward Tyler Smith, junior center Brian Williams, junior point guard Melvin Goins and sophomore guard Cameron Tatum were in a car that was stopped for speeding at about 11:30 a.m., according to Knoxville Police Department documents.

According to the incident report, one KPD officer immediately requested backup and a K-9 officer after approaching the vehicle, driven by Tatum, and smelling a "strong odor of marijuana."

The four players then were removed from the vehicle so it could be searched, and officers found two handguns, drugs and an open container of alcohol. One weapon was discovered under each of the front seats, and the one discovered under Smith's passenger seat had an altered serial number, the report said. That led to felony charges at first, but all charges were misdemeanors later in the evening, according to multiple sources.

"We take these matters very seriously," Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "We are still gathering information. Once the appropriate authorities have provided us with all of the facts, we will act accordingly."

Friday night, though, Pearl issued a new statement saying the four were "indefinitely" suspended "from all team activities until we have more information about today's incident." He began the statement by saying, "I am deeply saddened and troubled" and ended it with an apology "for the embarrassment this has caused to our university."

Those suspended are four of the Vols' top eight players with high-profile nonconference home games coming up next week against Charlotte and top-ranked Kansas. All four players average at least 16 minutes per game, and their combined average input is 32.4 points, 14.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists.

Williams (5.4) and Smith (4.7) are second and third on the team in rebounding, and Smith has nine more assists than any teammate.

"It could not be determined if the driver and passengers were under the influence of marijuana or not, although the strong odor indicated that marijuana had been recently smoked in the car," the report stated. "Because of this, physical arrests were made instead of misdemeanor citations for the misdemeanor charges."

Smith and Williams, who was seated behind him, were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm with an altered serial number. Williams, the only player with three charges, also was cited for possession of a schedule VI drug.

Tatum and Goins were charged with misdemeanor unlawful possession of a firearm. Tatum was cited for the open container of alcohol, and Goins was cited for possession of a schedule VI drug.

KPD's statement said Friday's report will be "the only information released on this incident" until Monday.

A retired KPD official told the Times Free Press Friday night that all four players could face weapons charges, despite just two guns being found in the car.

"It depends on a lot of factors, especially whether one or two of the guys in that vehicle step forward and claim responsibility for the weapons," the official said.

The official, speaking without direct knowledge of this particular case, said he'd expect the guns to get traced and fingerprinted for possible owner or handler identification.

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grad1971 said...

Forget the marijuana - even though it's illegal. To pretend that this drug is not available to ALL on any campus in this country is ridiculously naive. However, GUNS in the car? What circle(s) are these men moving in that requires them to carry a gun?

January 2, 2010 at 12:23 p.m.
NoMyth said...

Tennessee simply does not care about recruiting players with good character and judgment. The fans should demand new recruiting guidelines for all scholarship athletes or shift their support to reputable programs (e.g., Duke, the military academies, etc). Winning at any cost is a pathetic mindset and sets up the fans for disappointment and embarrassment. It is time to set a higher standard, people!

January 2, 2010 at 4:29 p.m.
Nashvol said...

Many of the problems that Tennessee deals with are a direct result of the character and judgment that is being allowed at many of the high schools that our athletes are being recruited from. These kids have been exposed to marijuana while in high school and they can not simply stop once they enroll at TN. Its sad to see these kids throw away a chance to get a quality education or potentially millions of dollars with contracts in basketball or football. I am a loyal fan, but its time for TN to take some pointers from Coach Pat Summit; after all the reason you are attending college is to obtain your education. I just hope these coaches are stressing this and not just winning a basketball or football game. I would love to see some of our former athletes step up if allowed by the administration and help mentor these guys. Many times these kids don't have that mentor or figure in their lives. UT athletes time to man up!

January 2, 2010 at 8:25 p.m.
arcade118 said...

There is no use of battering Pearl. To my knowledge, there is no record of him running a dirty program at any school where he has coached.

The really sad part of this is four very young men possibly ruining their lives with this stupid act. We should remember a good portion of these boys come from rough backgrounds without the good family support and examples that many of us were fortunate enough to have. Two of the young men's fathers are deceased. Much has been made of the teardrop tattoo on Smith's face but the fact is the tattoo was done as a tribute to his father who died from cancer (as featured by ESPN when it was done) and was not done as a gang symbol of who he killed, etc.

We can only hope that somehow these young men will come out of this without their futures being ruined and that they learn a serious lesson on what and what not to do in the future.

January 5, 2010 at 2:05 p.m.
elrock72 said...

Pearl deserves some slack?? Why? He's well known as a liar and opportunist from way back. Let us not forget that Bruce Pearl, as an assistant to Tom Davis at Iowa, illegally recorded a phone conversation of a player, Dion Thomas, both Iowa and Illinois were recruiting, talked jive to him for an hour, then turned the tape over to the NCAA in a futile attempt to have Illinois sanctioned by the NCAA. He worked in conjunction with Bob Knight, Digger Phelps and Gene Keady. One of Keady's star recruit at the time, Cuonzo Martin, later admitted to lying to the NCAA's investigative committee regarding his recruitment by Illinois, at the behest of Keady. Point? Pearl has been a cheater since he entered the coaching realm and has been involved with the best cheaters of all. Pearl knows full well the gangsters he recruits are just that and they show it by their actions and their words. Pearl couldn't care less except for the fact it may jeapordize his job, but Tennessee has shown no inclination to rid the university of what is becoming a rule rather than exception. If he keeps winning, they'll keep him without any qualms.

January 5, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.
Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Tennessee Volunteers, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.

April 30, 2010 at 12:54 a.m.
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