Illini junior guard accused of probation violation

John Supinie

Illinois junior guard Jamar Smith's future with the basketball program could be in jeopardy. Champaign County state's attorney Julia Rietz filed a petition Tuesday to revoke Smith's probation stemming from his guilty plea on a felony driving under the influence charge last year.

The petition alleges Smith violated his probation by consuming alcohol. According to the petition, Champaign police sent a report to Rietz after an incident at Fubar, a bar near campus. Smith posted the $25,000 bond Tuesday after turning himself in at the Champaign County jail, and he has a court date scheduled for this afternoon.

Smith, a 21-year-old Peoria Richwoods High School graduate, pleaded guilty to the felony DUI charge in May 2007 after a single-car accident left former teammate Brian Carlwell in critical condition with a head injury.

As part of Smith's plea deal, a felony charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident was dropped. Smith served 14 days in the county jail and was given two years of probation, and the court ordered him to abstain from alcohol for the length of the probation.

Athletic director Ron Guenther said in a written statement that, "we are taking this situation very seriously. Once we have gathered all of the pertinent information, we will be able to provide additional comment."

Coach Bruce Weber couldn't be immediately reached for comment, but he also issued a written statement.

"I recently learned about charges brought against Jamar and am working with our athletic department to understand the full details of the matter,'' according to Weber's statement. "As his coach and someone who cares very much about him, I am disappointed that he would put himself into a compromising position, especially after the

commitment he's shown over the last year (in) his effort to return to our program. We will wait to learn all the facts before commenting any further.''

Smith, a talented shooting guard, appeared on track to return to the basketball program this fall after sitting out the past season during a school-imposed redshirt. But the latest news could put an end to his career with the Illini.

Smith was expected to play a starring role this winter as Illinois attempts to bounce back from a 16-19 season overall, the program's first losing mark in nine years. Without Smith, Illinois' prospects for next season aren't nearly as bright.

Smith averaged 8.1 points a game as a sophomore before missing the season's final eight games after the accident. He led the Big Ten in 3-point percentage (48.2 percent) and was named the Big Ten Conference's all-freshman team.

The accident occurred while Smith was headed toward an apartment complex south of Assembly Hall on Feb. 12, 2007. He lost control of the car during the early stages of a snowstorm and slammed into a tree. Rietz said a witness reported the accident to police. While Smith's attorney's attempted to negotiate the charges to a misdemeanor, Rietz was adamant they remained a felony.

Smith's blood-alcohol level was .176, more than two times the legal limit for an adult driver. Smith was 19 at the time of the accident. He also was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and fees plus court costs, serve 100 hours of public service, attend a victim impact panel and complete 75 hours of substance-abuse treatment.

John Supinie can be reached at