The hits keep on coming for the University of Tennessee athletic department. Just seven weeks after three Vol football players were arrested for attempted armed robbery of a local convenience store, four hoopsters were arrested this morning (at 11:30 am) during a traffic stop where a baggy of marijuana and two guns were found in a rental car Cameron Tatum was driving. From the police report:
According to the incident report, one KPD officer immediately requested backup and a K-9 officer after approaching the vehicle, driven by Tatum, and smelling a “strong odor of marijuana.” The four players then were removed from the vehicle so it could be searched, and officers found two handguns, drugs and an open container of alcohol. One weapon was discovered under each of the front seats, and the one discovered under Smith’s passenger seat had an altered serial number, the report said. That led to felony charges at first, but all charges were misdemeanors later in the evening, according to multiple sources.
These weren’t just any average players, either. The arrested players were forward Tyler Smith, UT’s best all-around player, along with fellow starting forward Tatum, key reserve guard Melvin Goins and center Brian Williams — the four represent 41% of the team’s point production, 47% of the rebounds, 50% of the assists and 40% of the team’s minutes.In other words, this is a HUGE problem for Bruce Pearl. As of Friday night, Pearl has indefinitely suspended all four players and will gather more details before making a decision as to their futures with the program.
Of particular concern are the guns found under the seats. None of the four has taken credit for the ownership of these yet, and with good reason, as those weapons could be linked to other crimes. But, it creates an interesting prisoner’s dilemma situation, where if any player realistically wants to have a chance to continue his career at UT, he should come clean about another player’s ownership of the guns to save himself; otherwise, all four players could be charged with possession of the firearms. Will the code of the street/team take precedence over one’s self-interest and individual survival? You would have to believe that one or more will finger the others in order to absolve themselves of responsibility for the whole mess. But we ask again – WHY do players need to have guns lying around (see: Agent Zero and Javaris Crittenton)? It just doesn’t make any sense.
It will be very interesting to see how this ultimately shakes out, but things are not looking very good at all in Knoxville, a mere 24 hours after UT took it to Memphis in a huge win over their rival in the FedEx Forum, and only a few days prior to big games at home against visiting Charlotte and #1 Kansas. It appeared that Bruce Pearl’s team might have been turning the corner after some early struggles, but the only corner that may be in the future for much of his team at this point is looking more like something out of “The Wire” rather than at Thompson-Boling Arena.