Minnesota mulls punishment for Smith
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague said Monday that the unpaid leave for assistant basketball coach Saul Smith following his weekend arrest for drunken driving is indefinite and the discipline is up to him, not Smith's famous father.
"We're the front porch to the university in a lot of different ways no matter how you slice it, and we just can't have behavior like that," Teague said. "It's just not good for anyone. It's embarrassing, and I won't tolerate it."
Teague said he's still evaluating Smith's status but indicated he'd keep him on indefinite leave from his post as one of coach Tubby Smith's assistants at least until the fourth-degree driving while intoxicated charge is resolved.
Saul Smith's responsibilities will be spread among the rest of the staff for the time being. Teague said he doesn't believe the arrest is a violation of Smith's contract.
"Tubby and I talked a lot about it, but in the end it's my call. I want to be respectful. It's his son. It's very personal," Teague said.
The 32-year-old Smith was pulled over early Saturday on a highway after leaving downtown when a state trooper saw his vehicle driving on the shoulder between 70 mph and 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. Smith has a Dec. 3 court date.
According to Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske, Smith's eyes were bloodshot and watery, his speech was slurred and his reactions were slow. Taken to the Hennepin County jail, Smith took a breath test that registered a 0.18 blood alcohol concentration. He was released about four hours later.
The university described in detail Smith's arrest upon announcing his punishment Sunday. Teague spoke with Smith before the news was released.
"I was very firm with him. This is obviously not what we expect, and we never will," Teague said, adding: "He was definitely remorseful, and there was a little bit of shock."
Just a few months into his new job, Teague has faced a lot of fires to try to extinguish. The football team is struggling again, and Teague and coach Jerry Kill endured a torrent of criticism last week for an $800,000 cancellation of two future games against North Carolina. Kill wants to build the program with an easier nonconference schedule.
The week before that, the university revealed that Trevor Mbakwe, the star power forward who has been in all kinds of legal trouble over his career, had a DWI this summer. Mbakwe was allowed to stay on the team by fulfilling unspecified requirements, and Teague said Mbakwe will play in the season opener on Nov. 9 against American University.
Teague said he didn't see a double standard with these divergent punishments for Mbakwe and Smith, declaring them separate issues.
"I feel bad for our fans, for the university, because I don't want us to ever be doing anything that embarrasses the overall enterprise. But I don't think it's an overall symptom," Teague said, adding: "If I felt like things were out of control or there were some major problems, trust me: I would do something about it. All programs are going to have slip-ups, but if it was bad or something I really felt strongly about I would take action."
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