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USF's Mercer, Crater arrested, suspended



USF basketball guards Mike Mercer and Anthony Crater have been suspended from the team indefinitely after being arrested late Friday night near campus and charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.

"This kind of behavior is unacceptable within our program," Heath said Saturday morning in a statement, which cited "a violation of team rules" for the suspension. "We are reviewing the situation and once we have more information and all the facts, we'll have further comment."

Neither guard is currently playing for the Bulls. Mercer, a 22-year-old junior, suffered a season-ending knee injury last month, while Crater, a 19-year-old freshman, is sitting out the season after transferring on Jan. 5 from Ohio State. Both remained in jail Saturday morning, held on $500 bond. The Bulls have a noon game today against No. 20 Villanova.

Mercermug This is the second late-night arrest for Mercer (left) since he transferred to USF after being dismissed from the basketball team at Georgia in December 2007, putting his future with the team in doubt.

According to police reports, both players were arrested by Hillsborough County Sheriff's officers at 11:56 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Bearss Avenue, close to USF's campus.

A blue Dodge Charger driven by Mercer, going north on Bruce B. Downs, "crossed three lanes of traffic and cut in front of" the arresting officer, causing him to brake, according to the arrest report. The car was pulled over at 11:15 p.m., and the officer reported "the smell of marijuana was emitting from within the vehicle." A search of the vehicle produced a "brown marijuana cigarette" under the passenger seat, where Crater (pictured below) was sitting, and both players told police they had knowledge of the marijuana and were "about to smoke it," according to the arrest report.

Cratermug They were booked into the Orient Road Jail at 2:05 a.m. Saturday morning. The formal charge against each is possession of marijuana less than 20 grams, a first-degree misdemeanor which often results in community service, court fees and probation.

Marcer also was arrested in September for public consumption of alcohol, also a misdemeanor, though charges have since been dropped after successful completion of a pretrial misdemeanor intervention program. Mercer's discipline from Heath for his previous arrest did not include suspension from any games.

Both players could be competing for starting roles next season. Mercer started all four games he played in before suffering his knee injury, averaging 8.5 points. Crater is expected to challenge for the starting point guard job next season.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 5:50pm]


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