Penn State transfer gets boot at New Mexico

Updated: September 26, 2005, 3:23 PM ET
Associated Press

New Mexico forward Aaron Johnson, who was dismissed from the men's basketball team Sunday, faces four felony counts of battery on a police officer.

Johnson was arrested early Saturday morning at a downtown bar where he allegedly struck four officers following a struggle. The bar's bouncers were attempting to remove Johnson, who was throwing punches and kicks at any person in his way, according to a metropolitan court complaint.

Johnson "struck and kicked the officers," after they approached him to try and keep others from being harmed, the complaint says.

Johnson, 22, has been released from the Metropolitan Detention Center where he was booked.

His father, Howard Johnson, declined to discuss the incident.

"It's a personal matter, and that's the way it's going to be," he said. "I understand that this is public, but to me it's simply a personal matter."

New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay dismissed Johnson from the program, citing an undisclosed violation of team policy.

"All we can do as coaches is to provide an opportunity for young men to achieve their goals," McKay said in a statement Sunday. "However, when you are working with this age group, sometimes decisions are made that warrant the removal of that opportunity, at least as it exists in our program."

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was expected to sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules. He would have been eligible to play as a senior during the 2006-07 season.

Johnson led the Big Ten last season by averaging 9.9 rebounds. His 24 rebounds in a win over Western Carolina, 20 against Sacred Heart and 21 against Northwestern made him the only NCAA player last season with multiple games of at least 20 rebounds.

"I was looking forward to having Aaron as a part of our team for the next two years, but there is a standard of expectation that we have set for our student-athletes," McKay said. "At this time he is unable to meet that standard."

Johnson is the fourth New Mexico transfer to run afoul of McKay or the legal system.

New Mexico State transfer Josh Jenkins has been suspended since late July while police investigate a sexual complaint made against him.

In mid-August, Justin Holt was kicked off the team because he did not meet academic expectations.

Last week, Kansas transfer J.R. Giddens pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct -- charges stemming from a bar fight in Lawrence, Kan., before he became a Lobo. McKay did not discipline Giddens because he said he knew of Giddens' potential legal problems when he recruited him.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press