OU Basketball Signee Arrested Before Dismissal From Team

Tuesday, July 10th 2007, 11:44 am
By: News On 6

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Chris Early's dismissal from the Oklahoma basketball team came three days after the former West Virginia prep star was cited for trespassing at a Norman nightclub, but it was unclear Tuesday whether the incidents were connected.

Early, a member of Class AAA state champion Huntington High's basketball team who signed with Oklahoma last November, was trying to get into the nightclub on Thursday night. Employees determined he didn't meet the dress code and asked him to leave but he refused, said Jennifer Newell, a Norman police spokeswoman.

A nightclub employee called police and Early, who had moved to campus about a month ago, was cited. He was not transported to jail but was allowed to sign paperwork and leave, Newell said.

``A lot of these places are trying to discourage people from showing up in shorts and flip-flops. They want it to be a nicer atmosphere,'' Newell said. ``My understanding is municipal court will work through mediation to resolve the issue.''

Sooners coach Jeff Capel announced Early's dismissal on Sunday but didn't give a reason, citing it as an internal matter.

Mike Woelfel, a lawyer and assistant coach at Huntington who is a close adviser to Early, declined to speculate whether the nightclub incident was related to the dismissal.

``You'd have to ask coach Capel. I don't want to say what he did when I wasn't there,'' he said. ``Now, is there more to the story? There may be, there may not be.''

Capel didn't immediately return a telephone message Tuesday. Early, who has returned to West Virginia, has declined comment.

``Part of the issue in Oklahoma involved maybe a perceived lack of maturity on Chris' part,'' Woelfel said Tuesday. ``It was suggested that Chris would benefit from prep school experience. Chris is a capable student. It wasn't an academic issue, and I don't think he left on bad terms. I think basically that's what the root of the issue was, was there going to be a redshirt (year)? Should there be a prep year?''

Early, a 6-foot-7 guard-forward, averaged 8.6 points and 4.1 rebounds last season. He was a member of the Highlanders' state championship teams the past three seasons.

Woelfel said Early is being courted by several other colleges.

``He's got about six weeks to decide his next move,'' Woelfel said. ``Chris has got to sort out what's in his long-term best interests in terms of academics, the college experience, and basketball third.''