<
>

Penn State transfer gets boot at New Mexico

New Mexico forward Aaron Johnson, who was
dismissed from the men's basketball team Sunday, faces four felony
counts of battery on a police officer.

Johnson was arrested early Saturday morning at a downtown bar
where he allegedly struck four officers following a struggle. The
bar's bouncers were attempting to remove Johnson, who was throwing
punches and kicks at any person in his way, according to a
metropolitan court complaint.

Johnson "struck and kicked the officers," after they
approached him to try and keep others from being harmed, the
complaint says.

Johnson, 22, has been released from the Metropolitan Detention
Center where he was booked.

His father, Howard Johnson, declined to discuss the incident.

"It's a personal matter, and that's the way it's going to be,"
he said. "I understand that this is public, but to me it's simply
a personal matter."

New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay dismissed Johnson from the
program, citing an undisclosed violation of team policy.

"All we can do as coaches is to provide an opportunity for
young men to achieve their goals," McKay said in a statement
Sunday. "However, when you are working with this age group,
sometimes decisions are made that warrant the removal of that
opportunity, at least as it exists in our program."

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was expected to sit out next season under
NCAA transfer rules. He would have been eligible to play as a
senior during the 2006-07 season.

Johnson led the Big Ten last season by averaging 9.9 rebounds.
His 24 rebounds in a win over Western Carolina, 20 against Sacred
Heart and 21 against Northwestern made him the only NCAA player
last season with multiple games of at least 20 rebounds.

"I was looking forward to having Aaron as a part of our team
for the next two years, but there is a standard of expectation that
we have set for our student-athletes," McKay said. "At this time
he is unable to meet that standard."

Johnson is the fourth New Mexico transfer to run afoul of McKay
or the legal system.

New Mexico State transfer Josh Jenkins has been suspended since
late July while police investigate a sexual complaint made against
him.

In mid-August, Justin Holt was kicked off the team because he
did not meet academic expectations.

Last week, Kansas transfer J.R. Giddens pleaded not guilty to
misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct -- charges stemming from
a bar fight in Lawrence, Kan., before he became a Lobo. McKay did
not discipline Giddens because he said he knew of Giddens'
potential legal problems when he recruited him.