Friday, January 1, 2010
Four Vols players arrested, suspended
ESPN.com news services
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl indefinitely suspended four Tennessee basketball players, including starting senior forward Tyler Smith, who were charged with gun possession and other counts after a Friday traffic stop.
The Knoxville Police Department said Smith, 23, junior point guard Melvin Goins, 22, junior center Brian Williams, 22, and sophomore guard Cameron Tatum, 21, were arrested during a traffic stop for speeding near Tennessee's campus.
"They are all suspended indefinitely," Pearl told ESPN.com's Andy Katz. "I'm extremely disappointed, this is embarrassing for the program and the university."
According to a police report, officers smelled marijuana coming from the car and found a handgun with an altered serial number, a bag of marijuana and an open container of alcohol. Tatum was driving.
Officers could not determine whether any of the players were under the influence of marijuana, though the strong odor suggested marijuana had recently been smoked in the car, the police report said.
Pearl said that, to his knowledge, the rental car was rented by one of the players' girlfriends.
Tatum was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and having an open container of alcohol. Smith was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, which police first said was a felony but later Friday reported as a misdemeanor. Goins and Williams both face gun and drug possession charges.
All the counts the players face are misdemeanors.
It was not immediately clear if any of the players had attorneys.
"It's too early to say what this will mean for the rest of the season but this is very troubling," Pearl told ESPN.com. ""It's four of our top 8 players in minutes -- that's 45 percent of our rebounding and roughly scoring. We felt we had turned things around with a win at Memphis Thursday and for this to happen is very disappointing, for them to let everyone down. They made a very poor decision."
Smith averages 26.8 minutes per game -- more than any of his teammates -- and is averaging 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He leads the team with 44 assists this season.
Tatum has started six games this season and averages 8.7 points in 19.6 minutes of play per game. Goins averages 6.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game, while Williams averages 5.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game.
The 14th-ranked Vols were off Friday but do practice Saturday. Pearl said none of the four players would be at Saturday's practice. It's also unlikely that any of the four would be playing against Charlotte in Knoxville on Wednesday.
Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.