Georgia freshman linebacker Demetre Baker was booted off the team today after his arrest early this morning by Athens-Clarke County police on charges of DUI alcohol, improper driving and underage possession of alcohol.
Baker’s arrest was the 10th by a Georgia football player this year.
“Demetre was fully aware of the possible consequences that resulted from this kind of decision,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Baker was driving a 1996 black Mercedes-Benz when an officer driving behind him on Lexington Road at 2:44 a.m. noticed him weaving in and out of a traffic lane “multiple times,” according to the police incident report. Baker was pulled over at Lexington and Mimosa Drive and another officer detected a strong odor associated with an alcoholic beverage coming from the car.
When the officer asked Baker why he was weaving, he said it was because he was attempting to text on his cell phone.
Baker said he had recently dropped a friend off, and was headed to McDonalds for some food. When asked where he was coming from, he said downtown, and denied that he had been drinking.
Baker submitted to a field sobriety test and then a breathalyzer that recorded a blood alcohol content of .092. The legal limit for drivers 21 and over is .080.
Baker becomes the fourth player dismissed from the team this year after being arrested. A fifth player transferred after being suspended.
Richt said on his radio call-in show on Sept. 13 that his patience had grown thin with the arrests.
“They know the next guy has got some serious issues and the next guy after that,” Richt said. “We’ve all grown very tired of it.”
Baker, 19, did not travel with the Bulldogs to Saturday night’s game at Mississippi State. He was headed for a redshirt season.
He was booked into the Clarke County Jail at 4:26 a.m and released at 11:05 a.m. after posting bonds totaling $2,500.
Baker, from Orange Park, Fla., has not played in a game this season, but Richt had singled him out earlier this month as a player who had shown signs of progress in practice.
In a statement released by the school, Richt said: “We’ll assist him in finding a place to continue his education and football career and hope that he’s learned a valuable lesson from this mistake.”
UGA president Michael Adams addressed the number of arrests when he spoke to Athletic Association employees this month, saying “we’ve had too much in the football team. So we expect the coaches and the ADs to provide role models and leadership for their players.”
Asked if he now has a zero tolerance for arrests like Baker’s, Richt paused before giving his answer.
“I think all of our guys understand they need to behave,” Richt said. “I’ll put it that way.”
–Marc Weiszer, Ryan Blackburn