Ex-Vol Smith pleads guilty to gun charge
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Three of four Tennessee basketball players who were arrested when a gun and marijuana were found during a traffic stop pleaded guilty Friday to charges in the case.
Former Tennessee starting forward Tyler Smith, 23, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number. Junior center Brian Williams pleaded guilty to drug possession.
The four members of the basketball team were arrested after a Jan. 1 traffic stop for speeding. Smith was dismissed from the team for his role, while the three others were suspended.
General Sessions Judge Geoff Emery sentenced Smith to one year of judicial diversion for each of the gun charges and Williams also got judicial diversion for the possession of marijuana charge. The charges will be removed from their record as long as they stay out of trouble.
"I am using this experience to turn a negative thing into a positive one," Smith said in a statement after the hearing. "I am looking forward to my professional opportunities in basketball and I will return and complete my degree as soon as possible. I hope that the university and community will forgive me for my mistake. I will not let you down again."
Tatum was required to pay court costs and a $25 fee.
Police pulled over the vehicle the four were in for speeding and said they smelled marijuana coming from the car and found a handgun with an altered serial number, a bag of marijuana and an open container of alcohol.
Tatum was driving the car, which was a rental borrowed from one of the player's friends.
Coach Bruce Pearl suspended all four immediately but dismissed Smith, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference player, on Jan. 8 after gathering more information about the case. He indicated he believed Smith would plead guilty to the weapons charge so he could move on and pursue a professional career.
Goins and Tatum were reinstated to the team Jan. 17 and have seen playing time in several games since. Williams rejoined the team Feb. 6 and played briefly in the Vols' loss Tuesday night at Vanderbilt.
The four combined for 32.2 points, 14.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists in Tennessee's first 12 games before they were suspended.
Their absence left the Vols with a rotation of six scholarship players and three walk-ons, who banded together to beat then-top-ranked Kansas.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press