SIU suspends Hairston, Dale over July incident

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Associated Press

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- One of the players who led Southern Illinois to the Missouri Valley Conference basketball championship last season has been suspended from the team indefinitely.

Fifth-year senior Stetson Hairston, 22, was suspended Monday after being charged Aug. 4 with criminal trespassing and mob action, both felonies, and battery, a misdemeanor, university officials said.

Sophomore Michael Dale was charged with the same crimes and suspended for the first three games of next season.

Hairston and Dale, who have not entered pleas yet, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. No one answered telephone calls to their Fairview Heights homes.

The charges stemmed from an incident at an apartment complex near SIU on July 17. Police alleged Hairston and Dale fought with two other men.

Hairston has said the fight followed an altercation with the men earlier in the day.

"I've determined both players clearly violated our team conduct policy and warranted punishment," coach Chris Lowery said, declining to elaborate. "We'll continue to wait and see what happens in the court of law."

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 18 in Jackson County Circuit Court. State's Attorney Mike Wepsiec did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Last season, Southern Illinois received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament but lost 65-64 to Alabama on a last-second shot. It was the third straight NCAA appearance since making the round of sixteen two seasons ago.

Hairston is the team's third-leading scorer. He was also suspended before the 2003-04 season for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The suspension benched him during the team's trip to Europe last summer and two preseason games.

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