Passley's trial set

Anthony Passley's future with the University of Tennessee basketball program could be determined May 16. That's when he and walk-on teammate Jordan Smith go to trial related to Class C felony drug charges.

On March 5 Passley and Smith were sitting in Smith's Crown Victoria, which was parked illegally outside a Knoxville night club. Noticing the odor of marijuana, Knoxville police asked to examine the car. Receiving permission, they found roughly 15 ounces of crack cocaine in the driver's side door and less than three grams of marijuana in Passley's pocket. Possession of such a small amount of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor. Both young men were suspended from the Vol program by head coach Bruce Pearl, pending resolution of the legal matter.

If Passley is convicted on the misdemeanor charge only, he probably will be allowed to rejoin the basketball team. The redshirt sophomore transferred to UT from Wisconsin-Milwaukee last fall, then sat out the 2005-06 season. His younger brother, Cordell, is a heralded high school basketball star in Indianapolis and already has committed to be part of Tennessee's signing class of 2008.

Smith, who attended Knoxville's West High School, played just four minutes for the Vols in 2005-06.

Pearl told The Knoxville News-Sentinel he is "embarrassed by this issue" and that "dismissal is still an option." The coach added that Passley's future "isn't necessarily hinging solely on the outcome of the case. There are other factors involved, and Tony has an opportunity to prove to me he wants to be here."

Tommy Hindman, the attorney who represents Passley, believes his client will be cleared of the felony drug charge.

"My client had only been inside that vehicle for less than five minutes, and he did not ride in that vehicle,'' Hindman told The News-Sentinel. "Others have said he had no knowledge of (cocaine) being in that vehicle. Those are the facts, and the facts are what they are without any legal manipulating."

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