Pearl suspends four UT basketball players facing gun charges

Associated Press • Jan 1, 2010 at 12:00 AM

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.

“I am deeply saddened and troubled by today’s news,” Pearl said. “I am indefinitely suspending Melvin, Tyler, Cameron and Brian from all team activities until we have more information about (Friday’s) incident. I apologize for the embarrassment this has caused to our 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.

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.

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 (10-2) won at Memphis 66-59 on Thursday afternoon and face Charlotte in Knoxville on Wednesday.

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