More DWI Issues Arise for the U of M Basketball Program

The Minnesota Gophers have announced that an assistant coach with the basketball team has been suspended while the University of Minnesota sorts out disciplinary measures. Assistant men’s basketball coach Saul Smith was arrested Saturday in Minneapolis on suspicion of driving while impaired. Smith is the son of head coach Tubby Smith.

Authorities say that was speeding and driving on the shoulder while heading down Interstate 394 early Saturday morning. Police believe the basketball coach had just left a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis when police pulled over the coach’s car on I-394 near Wirth Parkway. Law enforcement claims that Smith submitted to a breath test, which authorities claim registered 0.18 percent BAC. He was booked into jail on DWI charges, and released later Saturday morning.

The coach is charged with fourth-degree DWI charges. Minnesota law allows for an enhanced DWI charge if a driver is accused of driving with an alcohol level of 0.20 percent or more. But a reading exceeding 0.16 percent or more can have impact on an implied consent license revocation under the state’s implied consent law.

The announcement of the DWI charges follows on the heels of the announcement that senior forward Trevor Mbakwe faced a DWI charge earlier this year. As this blog reported last week, resolution of the DWI case in Minnesota triggered a probation violation hearing in Florida for Mbakwe on an assault case in Florida.

Mbakwe was given an additional two years of probation and 500 extra hours of community service in the Florida case at the probation hearing Friday, but the senior forward will not face jail time in the Florida case as a result of his Minnesota DWI conviction.

Coach Tubby Smith disciplined Mbakwe this summer after the DWI arrest, and Mbakwe must still do things to satisfy head coach Smith that he is ready to play for the Gophers after the DWI allegations. The initial discipline included suspension, but Mbakwe was not released from the team. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Tubby Smith handled discipline properly in the aftermath of Mbakwe’s DWI arrest.

The Minnesota AD doled out a quick suspension for the assistant basketball coach after his DWI arrest this weekend. In a statement released to the press, Teague says that the university is not rushing to judgment before the legal process heads forward in Saul Smith’s DWI case. However, the AD says that the U of M and Tubby Smith are taking the DWI allegations seriously. Saul Smith is scheduled to appear on the DWI charges December 3 in Hennepin County.


  • St. Paul Pioneer Press, “Gophers basketball: Tubby Smith’s son/assistant put on leave after DWI arrest,” Marcus R. Fuller, Oct. 22, 2012
  • St. Paul Pioneer Press, “Gophers basketball: Trevor Mbakwe gets two more years of probation,” Marcus R. Fuller, Oct.19, 2012

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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