LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Senior forward Tyrone Nelson was dismissed from the New Mexico State basketball team Tuesday after he pleaded no contest to charges stemming from an August 2006 robbery of a pizza delivery man.
Nelson, 21, was set to be tried this week on charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and bribery. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, he avoided a trial and possible jail time.
``I have made some bad decisions that I am saddened that I have to live with,'' Nelson told state District Judge Stephen Bridgforth as he entered his plea. ``I'm asking for a chance to further my career as a student at New Mexico State.''
Bridgforth ordered Nelson to serve four years' probation and perform 100 hours of community service. Nelson would have faced more than seven years in prison had he been tried and found guilty of the charges.
Nelson was arrested days after a Domino's Pizza delivery man was struck on the side of the head and robbed of a pizza and hot wings on Aug. 22, 2006, at an apartment complex near campus.
Athletics director McKinley Boston testified Tuesday as a character witness on Nelson's behalf, but the court decided not to accept a proposal for Nelson's conditional discharge, which would have allowed him to participate on the team under a behavior contract.
Disappointed with the decision, Boston said he believes basketball would have provided the motivation for Nelson to complete the academic credits he needs to graduate.
School officials said Nelson was dismissed from the team because he violated the student-athlete code of conduct, which calls for permanent dismissal from the team following a conviction, a guilty plea or a no contest plea to a violent felony or serious drug offense.
``Tyrone's no contest plea was not an admission of guilt but it does identify him as a convicted felon and as athletic department policy states he will not be a member of the New Mexico State University basketball team,'' Boston said.
M, broke his right hand before last season and missed the first eight games. He came back to average 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
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