New Policy may force suspension for Hebron

ATHENS – Georgia head coach Mark Richt hasn't announced how he plans to punish linebacker Akeem Hebron for the player's most recent arrest.

The decision probably is out of his hands anyway.

Hebron's second arrest in two months on a charge of underage possession of alcohol makes him a two-time violator of the school's newly strengthened policy on alcohol and drugs, a part of the student code of conduct. If the school's office of judicial programs determines that Hebron is guilty of both charges, he will be suspended from school for the current semester and the fall of semester, said Dr. Alan Campbell, Georgia's associate dean of student affairs.

That would mean Hebron, a redshirt freshman who missed most of spring practice due to a hamstring injury, would not be eligible until at least the fall of 2008, and NCAA requirements for progress toward a degree mean even that semester is not a given.

A woman who answered the phone at Hebron's home in Gaithersburg, Md., and identified herself as his mother said Hebron is not suspended and is not resigned to the fact that he will be. Hebron could transfer from Georgia and be eligible at another school in 2008 without having to deal with the repercussions of his arrests, but the woman said the family had not discussed pulling the former Parade Magazine and USA Today high school All-American out of the university. (The woman hung up before giving her name.)

The alcohol and drug portion of Georgia's code of conduct was revised in September of last year, following the January death of student Lewis Fish, in which drugs and alcohol were involved. Among other things, the office of judicial programs now gets a copy of every arrest of a student made by the Athens-Clarke County or University of Georgia police department.

Those students are then called into the office of judicial programs and given the option of admitting to the charges or going before a student court. If a student admits to two alcohol or drug related offenses or is convicted of them by the student court, a suspension for the semester of the violations and the following semester is automatic. (The suspension must be for a fall or spring semester.)

Hebron was first arrested on Feb. 25 and that case has not yet to been dealt with by the university. He was arrested again last week. Under the old code of conduct, that would have given him a loophole through which to save his eligibility. The former policy stated that a student faced suspension only if the second incident came while a student was on probation from a previous incident.

"We had not anticipated we would have students who had multiple violations before their original violation could be resolved," Campbell said.

That loophole has been closed.

"If you come through the office of judicial programs, and you are found to be in violation of both of those offenses, you are going to be suspended," Campbell said.

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