Pearl, players discuss Tyler Smith's dismissal
Tyler Smith timeline
Tennessee All-SEC forward Tyler Smith has been dismissed from the team, the UT athletic department announced in a release this afternoon.
Smith was among four UT players arrested on New Years Day on drug and weapons charges.
The other three players - Melvin Goins, Brian Williams and Cameron Tatum - are still on indefinite suspension and will not play in the game against No. 1 Kansas on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“When we have a situation like this involving our student-athletes, we want to make sure we get as much information as possible before making difficult decisions,” Coach Bruce Pearl said in the release. “From the beginning, the student-athletes involved have been accountable, remorseful and cooperative with me. While we are not allowed to discuss specifics, we felt we had enough information at this time to dismiss Tyler Smith from the team. Melvin Goins, Cameron Tatum, and Brian Williams will remain indefinitely suspended.”
The four were in a rental car stopped for speeding by the Knoxville Police Department. Two guns and a bag of marijuana were found in the vehicle.
The release also offered the following statement from Smith:
“First, I want to thank the University of Tennessee, the UT Athletic Department and the basketball program for my support here. This place is a family for me and I look forward to a long relationship with this team and program as I go on in life.
”I am truly sorry for my actions in the recent case that everyone is familiar with. From the beginning, I have accepted responsibility for my actions and what I have been charged with, and I am very sorry that my decisions have affected Brian, Cam and Melvin.
”One day soon I hope I can finish the 12 classes that I need for my degree. My recent actions do not reflect who I am and I can only hope that what I do in the future can make everyone believe in me again.”
“I am deeply troubled and saddened,” Pearl said. “Playing basketball at the University of Tennessee is a privilege, and where conduct is displayed that is detrimental to the team and the University, this discipline is required. Tyler has accomplished a great deal and we are all disappointed his playing career at the University of Tennessee will end this way. However, it is my hope that someday soon he will return to the University and complete his degree.”
When reached concerning the dismissal, Smith’s attorney, Don Bosch, commented on the ongoing criminal investigation.
”I hope and believe that the misdemeanor cases against him will be resolved quickly and consistent with the thousands of other true first offenders in Knox County,” Bosch said. “We have no further comments at this time.”
The Knox County District Attorney General’s office is handling the misdemeanor charges against Smith and his former teammates.
John Gill, special counsel to district attorney Randy Nichols, said today he could not comment specifically on Bosch’s statement or the charges against Smith.
Generally speaking, however, he said several factors go into the resolution of first-offender cases.
“It depends on the surrounding circumstances, the facts you may know that are not public and the individual’s background,” Gill said.
“The facts control (what is generally done). Now the facts are usually similar. It just depends on things, many of which are not public at this time.
“We try to be as strict as possible on weapons.”
Smith, a Giles County High School graduate who transferred to UT from Iowa after his freshman year, was a unanimous All-SEC selection last season and is a two-time All-SEC first-teamer.
He had considered leaving UT after last season to enter the NBA Draft and went through pro evaluation, but instead announced in a press conference that he would remain at UT.
He had averaged 11.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 26.8 minutes. He had been leading the team in minutes played and assists (44).
The Vols defeated Charlotte 88-71 on Wednesday in their first game without the four.