The fallout from the January 1 arrests of four Tennessee Basketball players has hit Vol senior Tyler Smith the hardest: the university announced today that Smith has been dismissed from the program. Smith was believed to face the the greatest charges in the arrest, dealing with possession of a firearm with an altered serial number.
Statements today from Bruce Pearl suggest that the investigation continues for Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams, and Melvin Goins. All three remain indefinitely suspended and will not play on Sunday when the Vols host #1 Kansas.
From Bruce Pearl's statement (which can be found at the above link):
"I am deeply troubled and saddened. 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."
And Tyler Smith has also released a statement:
"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."
It's the end of a long and winding road for Smith at UT. He came as a hardship transfer from Iowa, to be closer to his ailing father, who eventually passed away. Smith was originally a Buzz Peterson recruit, but played well immediately for Bruce Pearl in the Vols' 2007-08 SEC Championship season.
Tyler Smith isn't one of these guys that gets kicked off the team and we all say good riddance. Smith made very real contributions here - he scored the last second game winning bucket against Ole Miss in the Vols' SEC home opener in 2008, and hit the final two huge shots to give the Vols the lead in the 1 vs. 2 game at Memphis a month later. Last season he was an All-SEC performer that recorded the first triple-double in the history of the program. He elected to stay in school this season to play one more year for the Vols instead of testing the NBA waters, an opportunity one wonders if he's now tarnished.
How well the Vols will ultimately fare without him remains to be seen. And Smith is ultimately responsible for his own actions. But this an unfortunate result for both the program and Tyler Smith.