New USF assistant arrested

Published February 11, 2006

TAMPA - Former Jefferson football coach Mike Simmonds, who resigned last week to join the coaching staff at USF, was arrested early Friday on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

Simmonds, 41, was pulled over after a Tampa Police Department officer noticed his 1994 Jeep failing to stay in one lane as he drove north on Dale Mabry Highway.

According to the arrest report, the officer observed that Simmonds "almost struck a fire rescue engine," which had to take evasive action to avoid a collision. When a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office cruiser turned on its flashing lights, Simmonds did not respond for a half mile, according to the report.

The arresting officer reported the odor of alcohol on his breath, slurred speech and red, watery eyes. Simmonds was arrested at 12:40 a.m. after he refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test. He was released from county jail at 9:06 a.m. on $500 bond.

Simmonds, who played one season with the Buccaneers and led Jefferson to two state championship games in eight seasons, stepped down Jan.30 to become a graduate assistant on USF's staff, working with defensive ends. He has continued as an in-school suspension teacher at Jefferson, driving to USF after school to begin offseason work.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show no previous arrests for Simmonds, who declined to comment when reached at his home Friday afternoon. Hillsborough County schools were not in session Friday, and Jefferson principal Lou Diaz could not be reached for comment. USF coach Jim Leavitt, in New Jersey on a speaking engagement, could not be reached.