Aggies' Pope arrested on DUI charge, suspended indefinitely from team

Updated: December 29, 2007, 9:02 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- New Mexico State basketball player Herb Pope has been arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and other counts, authorities said.

Pope, 18, was found unresponsive behind the wheel of a car that was stopped in a traffic lane in Moon, about 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, with its engine running and doors locked at 2:27 a.m. Friday, according to court documents.

Pope awakened after officers repeatedly tried to rouse him, and the car then lurched into a police cruiser, authorities said. Officers broke the driver's side window, shut off the engine, arrested Pope and took him to a hospital for tests.

Pope then was taken to Allegheny County Jail, where he was arraigned and released on his own recognizance, authorities said. In addition to the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Pope was charged with reckless endangerment, underage drinking and a traffic offense.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled Jan. 8. Family members reached by The Associated Press on Saturday declined comment.

New Mexico State athletic director McKinley Boston said Saturday that Pope won't play in Monday's game against Alcorn State and is suspended indefinitely for violation of university and team rules.

Pope's eligibility was called into question this month by the NCAA, but the freshman forward sued and a state district judge signed an order Dec. 21 restraining the NCAA from declaring him ineligible.

Pope did not play in the Aggies 70-65 loss at Louisville on Dec. 22.

NCAA officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

State District Judge Jerald Valentine set a Jan. 14 hearing to determine whether the restraining order against the NCAA should be continued, said one of Pope's attorneys, Dean Cross of Las Cruces. He would not comment further.

According to court records, the eligibility question focused on an alternative education program Pope was taking while in high school in Pennsylvania, the Las Cruces Sun-News has reported.

A former Aliquippa (Pa.) High School basketball star, Pope was one of the most heralded recruits nationally last spring.

In March, the 6-foot-8 forward was shot four times in Aliquippa. A Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty to attempted homicide and was sentenced to six to 16 years in prison earlier this month.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press