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USF toughens criminal offense code

PETE YOUNG
Published May 2, 2003

TAMPA - Three days after he learned two South Florida football players had pending felony charges against them while playing during the 2002 season - a violation of university policy - athletic director Lee Roy Selmon amended the rules to try to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Selmon added an honor clause to the student-athlete code of conduct Thursday. It requires athletes to disclose if they are "arrested or otherwise charged with a criminal offense by any law enforcement agency." They must tell their coach and the associate athletic director for compliance, Steve Horton, within 24 hours or they will be suspended at least two games.

"Certainly we want to put more teeth into (the code of conduct) on the heels of something like that," Selmon said. "While we always place the responsibility on the athletic department, the student-athletes also must be responsible for their actions.

"A formal stipulation in our existing policy strengthens our position in that regard and serves as a reminder to all of our student-athletes."

Selmon learned Monday that linebacker Maurice Jones and offensive lineman Frank Davis played last season after separate arrests on a felony battery charge. (Jones' has been dropped; Davis' is pending.) Selmon said the amendment is in response to that information.

"It came from here, from me," Selmon said. "I looked at what our policies were, I reviewed them again and gave some careful thought and consideration to amending them."

USF spokesman Michael Reich said Selmon met Wednesday with USF president Judy Genshaft.

"Lee Roy had been looking into this," Reich said. "He talked about what he wanted to do, and the president supports him."

USF's code of conduct states that anyone charged with a felony cannot represent the university in game competition, barring "extraordinary circumstances," until the charge is resolved. Those charged with misdemeanor offenses have their case reviewed by the athletic director and are subject to disciplinary action.

Before Jones and Davis, three USF athletes had been charged with felonies during Selmon's tenure. The first two, Lee Roy Selmon Jr. and Antonio Warren, were suspended until the charges were dropped. The third, basketball player Will McDonald, was cleared to play by Selmon after a one-game suspension.

STILL A USF FAN: Basketball signee Ricardo Freeman, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Seward County (Kansas) Community College, said the coaching change at USF has not changed his intentions.

"I'm definitely still planning on coming," Freeman said. "I spoke to (new USF) coach (Robert) McCullum a couple of times. He seems like a great guy, a great coach."

Freeman graduates May 10, and he said he will go home to Connecticut for a few weeks and then come to USF in early June. USF's other fall signee, 6-10 center Konimba Diarra of Our Savior New American in Centereach, N.Y., met Thursday with McCullum in New York and reaffirmed his desire to come to USF.

"He's very happy, he likes the guy, they hit it off. Everything's set," said Bill Sisti, Diarra's AAU coach.

Meantime, McCullum has a second opening to fill on his staff. Assistant Clayton Bates, a member of McCullum's staff at Western Michigan, is returning to WMU to join Steve Hawkins, who was promoted to coach Thursday. Tommy Deffebaugh, who also came with McCullum from WMU, is USF's lone assistant. ERIKSEN GETS EXTENSION: Softball coach Ken Eriksen agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2006, and senior associate athletic director Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy said it could be the start of a trend.

"We're trying to standardize longer contracts," Sparks-McGlinchy said. "The majority of the head coaches here are on a year-to-year at this point, and we're trying to change that."

Eriksen, a 1984 USF graduate, is 308-167 in seven seasons, including 49-14 this season.

TENNIS PAIR HONORED: Paco Antelo and Uli Kiendel were named first-team All-Conference USA. Jorge Escallon was named to the third team. The men's team will play Georgia on May 9 in Waco, Texas, in the NCAA Tournament.

More basketball

NBA DRAFT: T.J. Ford, the All-America point guard who led Texas to the Final Four for the first time in 56 years, and Dwyane Wade, Marquette's first All-American in 25 years, have decided to apply for the June 26 draft, as has Washington State junior guard Marcus Moore. INDIANA: Patrick Ewing Jr., a 6-8, 215-pound forward and son of the former Knicks star, signed a letter of intent.

OKLAHOMA: Center Jabahri Brown was arrested and booked on misdemeanor complaints of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia after police went to serve his roommate, basketball reserve Matt Gipson, with outstanding traffic warrants.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Assistant Matt Painter was promoted to coach, replacing Bruce Weber, hired Wednesday by Illinois.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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