Richt kicks linebacker off team after arrest (updated)

(Updated 7 p.m.)

The number of Georgia football players arrested this year reached double figures Sunday, when freshman linebacker Demetre Baker was jailed in Athens on DUI and other charges.

By the end of the day, Baker was out of jail but no longer a Bulldog, kicked off the team by coach Mark Richt.

Baker, 19, was arrested early Sunday morning by Athens-Clarke County Police on charges of underage possession of alcohol and improper driving, in addition to DUI, according to police records.

He was the 10th Georgia football player arrested this year and the fourth to be dismissed from the team.

Richt said Baker “was fully aware of the possible consequences that could result from this type of poor judgment” and is “now paying a severe penalty.”

Baker’s UGA career ends without him ever playing in a game for the Bulldogs. The Orange Park, Fla., native was being redshirted this season and did not accompany the team to Saturday’s game at Mississippi State.

He was booked into the Clarke County Jail at 4:26 a.m. Sunday and released at 11:05 a.m. on bonds totaling $2,500.

His arrest and dismissal from the team came eight days after UGA President Michael Adams said in an interview that he had called on the athletics department to deal with the proliferation of arrests.

“We have had too much in the football team,” Adams said on Sept. 18. “And so we expect the coaches and the AD’s to provide role models and leadership for their players, and I told the whole Athletic Association staff that” in a meeting earlier this month.

Adams added in the interview: “We expect people to represent us in a positive fashion, on and off the field. That is not an unrealistic expectation.”

Richt also had expressed exasperation recently with player arrests, telling a caller on his radio show Sept. 13: “My patience is worn about as thin as it can wear. . . . I can promise you [the players] know that the next guy has got himself some serious issues and anybody after that, too. . . . We’ve all grown very tired of it.”

Asked Sunday evening if Baker’s quick dismissal from the team indicates a new zero tolerance for arrests, Richt paused and said: “I think all of our guys understand that they need to behave. I’ll put it that way.”

Richt added in a statement released by Georgia: “We’ll assist [Baker] in finding a place to continue his education and football career and hope that he’s learned a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

This year’s 10 arrests of Georgia football players, all since March, have been for a range of charges, from battery to public intoxication. Six of the cases included alcohol-related charges. All of the charges have been misdemeanors.

Richt dealt with the Baker issue on the day after one of the most disheartening losses of his decade as Georgia’s football coach. Saturday night’s 24-12 loss at Mississippi State extended Georgia’s losing streak to three games, the Bulldogs’ longest under Richt.

“The bottom line is we are 0-3 in the league and we’ve never been there,” Richt said Sunday, “and we have had enough issues off the field that it has been a big distraction and sad for our young men and for our program and our university and our fans and everybody else. So there’s no doubt that it’s the toughest bit of adversity that we’ve faced since I’ve been here.

“Our goal is to stay together as a team and as a staff and stay the course. Make changes that need to be made, but if you sit there and try to make a wholesale change mid-stream, then you’re asking for even more trouble. So we’re not going to do that.”

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