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Pitt's Howland won't dismiss Hawkins

Wednesday, February 09, 2000

By Gerry Dulac, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

University of Pittsburgh basketball player Isaac Hawkins will not be dismissed from the team after he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession at his Oakland apartment, Coach Ben Howland said.

But Howland said he will not determine what disciplinary action, if any, will be taken against his injured 6-foot-8 senior forward until after a scheduled court hearing Feb. 16. Hawkins has not played this season because of a fractured leg and will receive a medical redshirt to be eligible to compete in the 2000-01 season.

"We're not looking to dismiss Isaac," Howland said. "This is not something that I look at as a situation where it necessarily deems dismissal from the program. We want to give him some help and give him some direction, as well as some discipline."

Hawkins, a second-team All-Big East Conference selection, was charged by city police with possession of marijuana Monday night. He has recovered from his injury and has been working out with the team, but Howland said Hawkins will not be allowed to practice with the Panthers for the next couple days until the matter is resolved.

"It's very disappointing for me, very disappointing for the program," Howland said. "I'm one who believes strongly you have to have discipline. It's something I'm instituting in this program. Your discipline off the floor relates to how you play on the floor."

Howland already has disciplined several players in his first year with the Panthers. Freshman forward Donatas Zavackas, a Howland recruit, had to sit out three games for his involvement in a university investigation in which an unspecified number of Pitt students used an access code to make unauthorized long-distance phone calls from campus buildings. Forward Derrick Worrell, a junior-college transfer, was kicked off the team two weeks ago for what Howland said was a bad attitude.

But Howland said Hawkins is no different than a lot of college students - he made a mistake.

"Everybody makes mistakes," Howland said. "You grow through your mistakes. You learn from your mistakes. That's what we'll try to help Isaac with."

Howland was brought in to replace Ralph Willard, in part, to help clean up Pitt's image after a year in which three players were either suspended from or kicked off the team. Guard Kellii Taylor missed five games to receive treatment for alcohol abuse, freshman guard Fred Primus was dismissed from the team after he was arrested for stealing $2,100 worth of jewelry from a suburban Philadelphia home, and forward Attila Cosby was suspended for the final two games of the season for twice physically assaulting assistant coach Oliver Antigua during practice.

"We've been in so much trouble and done so many stupid things since I've been here," said junior guad Ricardo Greer. "You always have to remember that every time you do something, especially if it's bad, you're always going to have that tag. It hurts, but that's the fine line we have to walk as an athlete."

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