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UTM athlete faces charge of public intoxication

Published (Volume 76, No. 8)

Credit: File

Brett Hall

Credit: File

Injured UTM Skyhawk quarterback Brett Hall was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with underage consumption and public intoxication on UTM property.

The arrest came within 30 hours after Hall was cited with a misdemeanor after a violation of the drinking age law.

Hall, a heavily recruited freshman transfer from Illinois, was first given a misdemeanor citation at 1:45 a.m. Saturday morning at Cheers, a local bar and grill. According to a Martin Police Department report, Hall was involved in an altercation with another person. While speaking with Hall, a police officer observed that he had been drinking and that he was only 20 years old. He was then issued a misdemeanor citation.

A UTM Department of Public Safety offense report obtained by The Pacer showed that at 6:10 a.m. Sunday, Hall was observed in the parking lot of the University Courts laundry asleep in the front seat of a red Ford Tempo. The arresting officer attempted several times to wake Hall.

Upon waking him, the officer detected a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and observed that Hall was very unsteady on his feet. Hall said that he had been drinking and was taken to the Weakley County Sheriff’s Office, where he was arrested and held on $1,000 bond. He was arraigned Monday morning in General Sessions Court.

Hall suffered a shoulder injury during UTM’s Sept. 20 loss at Western Illinois. Before the injury, Hall had started three games for the Skyhawks, averaging a 53.2 percent completion rate for just 420 yards. He passed for two touchdowns along with two interceptions and rushed -0.4 yards per down.

The injury put Hall out for the rest of the 2003 football season, but his academic future as a result of the alcohol charges has yet to be determined.

The UTM Standards of Conduct for 2003 -2004 explicitly states that the types of misconduct for which students are subject to disciplinary measures are: “unlawful use … of drugs or alcohol on university property or during university activities,” and “possession, use of/being under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs on university-owned or controlled property …”
The conduct guide also states that “failure or refusal to comply with the rules and policies established by the university may subject the offender to disciplinary action up to, and including, suspension from the university.”

“The first step of discipline goes to the coaches in cases like this,” said Phil Dane, UTM athletics director. “If the offense is habitual, then I get involved. I was made aware of the situation and left it up to Coach Matt Griffin’s discretion.”

Griffin ordered Hall to undergo Alcohol Awareness, set to begin on Monday. Griffin is known for his tough “three-strikes-you’re-out” policy, which he has used several times in the past with his football athletes.

When asked about Hall’s future with the team, Griffin was firm.
“Brett has two strikes against him,” Griffin said. “One more time and Brett is gone.”

The offense report also showed that UTM tennis player Eleanor Shearman was found in the car with Hall on Sunday morning. She was awakened by a UTM officer after several attempts and alcohol was detected on her breath. Shearman said she had been drinking and was also unsteady on her feet. She was then charged with public intoxication.

Shearman was sent to the Weakley County Sheriff’s Office, where she paid a forfeiture of $281.50 and was released.
“Her character will prevent this from happening again,” said Dennis Taylor, UTM’s head tennis coach. “Her punishment and discipline will prevent this incident from occurring once more. This will be a positive punishment in that more people will be made aware of problems with alcohol.”

Shearman will be competing in the MTSU Invitational this weekend, as UTM was committed to the tournament before the arrest was made.

When asked about the student-athletes’ punishments and the future of their scholarships, Dane said their cases will go to Student Affairs.
“Just because they are athletes doesn’t mean they’re not like other students,” Dane said. “Student Affairs will also handle their discipline.”