Redhawks dismiss Williams from squad

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Southeast Missouri State's chances of winning an Ohio Valley Conference game this season have grown even slimmer.

The university issued a news release early Friday evening announcing that junior center Calvin Williams has been dismissed from the men's basketball team because of a violation of athletic department policy.

The release said university personnel will have no further comment.

A source told the Southeast Missourian that Williams was dismissed from the squad after he failed a drug test administered by the university earlier this week, which resulted in a violation of the athletic department's code of conduct.

Williams was suspended for four games this season -- the two exhibitions and the first two regular-season contests -- following his October arrest on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, driving without a license and driving without proper headlights.

The source said that, following the arrest, Williams was told by university personnel that he likely would face drug tests at various points during the rest of the season.

The source also said that Williams will be allowed to retain his scholarship for the remainder of the school year, after which his scholarship will be withdrawn.

Williams, the source said, might consider transferring to a non-Division I program, where he would be able to use his final season of eligibility next year.

The 6-foot-9 Williams has been Southeast's top all-around player this season, averaging 16.5 points, eight rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game.

Williams is seventh in the OVC in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocks. He also is fifth in field-goal shooting (53.4 percent) and 12th in free-throw shooting (71.4 percent).

Despite Williams' strong season, the Redhawks are 3-20 overall and a last-place 0-12 in the 10-team OVC.

The Redhawks have suffered 12 straight defeats to account for the nation's longest current losing streak. Southeast's all-time longest losing streak is 16 during the 1928-29 season.

Southeast, which has dropped a school-record 19 consecutive OVC games dating back to last season, is closing in on the school record for losses in a season, 22 during the 2001-02 campaign.

The Redhawks will be down to only seven scholarship players available for the remainder of the season without Williams.

"We just have to move forward," said Southeast acting coach Zac Roman, who was en route to Charleston, Ill., with the rest of the squad for tonight's 7 p.m. OVC game at Eastern Illinois.

Asked to comment specifically on Williams' dismissal, Roman said: "It's probably best if I don't say anything right now."

Roman said 6-6 sophomore Jajuan Maxwell will start in Williams' place.

The Redhawks would have been hard-pressed to break their losing streak tonight even with Williams.

EIU (10-11, 7-4) has been the surprise team in the OVC. The Panthers are in fourth place after finishing no higher than eighth in the past five seasons.

The Panthers were next to last a year ago, when they went 7-22 overall. They were picked to finish ninth this season.

A win tonight would get the Panthers to an overall .500 record this late in the season for the first time since 2003. EIU routed Southeast 83-63 on Jan. 10 at the Show Me Center.

"I think they might be the hardest-playing team I've seen this year," Roman said early in the week. "They play hard every night. They've got tough kids.

"He's [coach Mike Miller] doing a good job."

Miller, who was in the fourth and final year of his contract, received a one-year contract extension, the university announced this week.

Junior guard Romain Martin, the OVC's co-freshman of the year in 2006-07 who was limited by injuries last season, leads EIU at 15.1 points per game.

Sophomore guard Tyler Laser (11.9 ppg) and junior guard T.J. Marion (10 ppg) are other double-figure scorers for the Panthers.

Laser is the OVC's top 3-point shooter at 48.9 percent, while 6-8, 250-pound junior center Ousmane Cisse (8 ppg) leads the OVC in field-goal shooting at 58.2 percent.

The Panthers lead the OVC in field-goal percentage defense at 41.2.

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