VERNON, Conn. -- Former Connecticut forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel was admitted Wednesday into a state drug education program that could leave him without a criminal record.
Rockville Superior Court Judge Laura F. Baldini accepted Coombs-McDaniel's application for the program for first-time offenders and ordered him to take 10 drug education classes and perform 75 hours of community service. Misdemeanor drug charges will be dismissed if he complies with the requirements in the next year.
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Coombs-McDaniel was arrested in April on campus and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police say Coombs-McDaniel and two friends were found with 5.6 grams of marijuana, a marijuana grinder and a package of cigars used to smoke marijuana.
Outside of court, he told the Associated Press that he wanted to apologize to UConn fans and especially his former teammates.
"The team knows I'm sorry, and the coaching staff knows and that's what really matters to me," he said. "If they've accepted it, so should everybody else. I had a good ride at UConn, and I know they are going to have a great season next year."
Connecticut lawmakers just passed legislation that will decriminalize the possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana. When the law goes into effect on July 1, it will become an infraction, resulting in a $150 fine for a first offense.
Coombs-McDaniel was charged under the current law, which make possession punishable by a possible jail term and larger fines.
Coombs-McDaniel and the school announced shortly after his arrest that he would be transferring from UConn. The 6-foot-7 junior said he wants more playing time, and the decision had nothing to do with his legal problems.
Coombs-McDaniel is currently attending summer school at UConn.
"I went [to Hofstra] last weekend and had a good trip," he said. "I like the coaches and the whole situation. The head coach is from Massachusetts. I've known [assistant] coach Wayne Morgan from since I was younger. So it's a good situation. I'll probably take Missouri out of it, because they just signed a kid.
Coombs-McDaniel played in all 41 of UConn's games during its national championship season. He averaged 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds. He was a favorite with the UConn student section, which broke into a chorus of "Coooombs" when he scored. He had a three-game stretch in February during which he averaged more than 21 points per game, but was never a consistent threat off the bench after that.
UConn coach Jim Calhoun issued a statement when Coombs-McDaniel announced he was leaving the team that wished him well.
"He was a very important part of our national championship this season," Calhoun said, "and I know is capable of great success in the future."