DeWitt Maxwell ’06, the starting power forward on the Fairfield men’s basketball team, is ineligible to compete with the team, officials announced last Thursday.

Maxwell’s ineligibility comes as the result of a violation of the University student code of conduct, according to a statement released by the Athletic Department.

Maxwell may request a re-evaluation of his status with the team at the end of the semester. At that time, the office of the Dean of Students may decide if Maxwell is eligible to play.

The suspension came less than a week after Maxwell, 21, of Newark, N.J., was arrested on several charges in Fairfield.

“The actions taken are in accordance with University policies and procedures for all students at Fairfield University, said Director of Athletics Gene Doris. “During the period of his ineligibility, we will continue to support DeWitt in achieving his goals.”

“We support the school and its decision, and we are also prepared to help DeWitt through this time and support him,” said Timothy O’Toole, head coach of the men’s basketball team.

“…The team needs to seek out the opportunity that will exist. The strength of the group has always been in its numbers…DeWitt has a number of things he needs to do, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” O’Toole added.

Maxwell was arrested early on the morning of Oct. 1 in Fairfield after he was accused of breaking into a house in an effort to avoid police. He was charged with reckless driving, operating a motor vehicle without a license, and disorderly conduct.

A Fairfield police officer on patrol saw a motorist, later identified as Maxwell, driving recklessly and speeding on Unquowa Road at about 3:30 a.m. Maxwell then left his car on Old Post Road and ran to a house on Fairfield Beach Road.

When no one answered the door at the Fairfield Beach residence, Maxwell broke into the house and then into a bedroom, where he was involved in a fight.

No one in the house pressed charges against Maxwell. He was released on a promise to appear in court.

The Mirror was unable to reach Maxwell for comment. Other members of the men’s basketball team did not return phone calls from The Mirror seeking comment about Maxwell’s ineligibility.

The NCAA allows the university to decide a player’s eligibility in situations where there is no NCAA violation. However, if a player is declared ineligible to play by the university, they must then follow the rules of NCAA sanctions, Doris said.

According to Doris, NCAA rules mandate that suspended players are not to be visible at public events as a representative of the team, such as at games. However, Maxwell may still be able to practice with the team.

If Maxwell does not play this season, he may be eligible to “red shirt,” or play as a fifth-year senior.

“It’s usually our goal for students to graduate in four years instead of letting athletics mandate the length of their stay at the university,” said Doris. However, he said that there are exceptions and that an athlete’s ability to play a fifth year is a decision made by the athlete, coach and university.

Doris would not confirm nor deny whether Maxwell was on athletic scholarship, but said that in similar situations any student athlete’s aid could be re-evaluated and possibly revoked.

Student fans of Stag basketball are upset by the loss of Maxwell and fear that it may affect the team’s performance this season.

Last season, Maxwell finished the season with career highs in scoring (11.3 points per game) and rebounding (5.6 per game). He scored at least 20 points in two games last season and was expected to lead the team in points this season.

“He’s one of the two leading scorers, so this is obviously a huge loss for the team,” said Greg Pasler ’06. “They have a lot of work cut out for them with the loss of Deng Gai and now DeWitt. They really don’t have a go-to guy in the center. It is what it is.”

“It’s a shame. Losing Maxwell is definitely going to effect the Stags’ season,” said Charles Sferlazza ’06. “He was one of our top players last year besides Deng, and losing him is really going to hurt the team. ”

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