Guard Mercer reinstated to USF basketball
"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity Coach Heath has given me to re-join the basketball team," Mercer said in a statement. "I apologize again to my teammates, my coaches and the USF community for my poor decisions last year. I am very proud to be a graduate of USF and look forward both to continuing my education here and to making positive contributions on and off the court."
Heath had told the Times in June that he would consider bringing Mercer back to the team, providing he graduated as scheduled this summer and fulfilled the obligations of a pretrial intervention program he entered into from a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in January.
"I believe Mike has earned the opportunity to be reinstated to our team and look forward to his return," Heath said in a statement. "Mike has accepted significant conditions related to his scholarship, academic performance and participation in a highly structured life skills and community service program that are an indication he fully understands my expectations of him. I am proud that he has earned his degree and that he wants to continue his education at USF under the conditions I have outlined for him. I am pleased that Mike has learned from this experience, and I am confident his conduct and personal development will be reflective of what we expect of each student-athlete in our program."
Mercer, a 6-foot-4 senior who joined the Bulls after two seasons at Georgia, suffered a season-ending knee injury just four games into his USF career in December, but if he can return healthy, his presence will upgrade the Bulls at the shooting guard/small forward position. Heath will have three freshmen -- Jordan Dumars, Shaun Noriega and Mike Burwell -- competing for time there with Mercer, who averaged 11.3 points in his first three games at USF before suffering his knee injury. This will be his final season of college eligibility.
Mercer was arrested in January with teammate Anthony Crater and charged with possession of marijuana. The charge against Crater has since been dropped, and Mercer entered into a pre-trial intervention program involving community service and probation; as of Thursday, court records showed he had not completed the requirements of that program. Mercer had previously been arrested in September for public consumption of alcohol, but that charge was dismissed as part of his pre-trial agreement on the second charge.