By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press
VERNON, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut forward Tyler Olander pleaded guilty Monday to driving without a license in a deal that saw prosecutors drop other charges, including drunken driving.
The 6-foot-10 forward was suspended from the basketball team indefinitely after he was charged earlier this month with operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, and driving without a license.
Olander, who has never had a driver’s license, was fined $75 as part of a plea deal.
Outside of court, the senior apologized to UConn fans and his teammates.
“I hope they don’t see these past images as a reflection of who I am, and they can see me as I’m a good kid who made some mistakes as everybody does,” he said.
Olander was pulled over driving a friend’s car just after 11 p.m. on Sept. 7 after a motorist reported he was making “several jerky steering maneuvers” near the UConn campus in Storrs, said prosecutor Cynthia Baer.
An officer on the scene arrested Olander after he failed a field sobriety test.
But Olander also took two breath tests and both showed his blood alcohol concentration was under the state’s legal limit of .08, his attorney, Robert Britt, said.
“We’re happy that the state viewed the science in the matter, because I believe that the science was on our side,” Britt said.
This was the second criminal charge Olander has faced in the past six month.
The 21-year-old, who grew up near the campus in Mansfield, Conn., was barred from team activities for a month earlier last season after being charged with trespassing in Panama City, Fla., while on spring break.
He agreed to a fine and community service in that case.
Olander said he is concentrating now on staying in shape, trying to regain the faith of coach Kevin Ollie and be reinstated to the team.
“That is my goal,” he said. “God willing, I’ll be back. But, that it really out of my hands.”
Olander averaged just over four points and just under four rebounds per game last season, and was expected to be a major contributor for the Huskies in the front court.
The team begins practice on Friday. UConn spokesman Phil Chardis said there was no immediate change in Olander’s status with the program as a result of Monday’s court proceedings.
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