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Off the Court, More Trouble for NCSU's Thornton

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RALEIGH — An N.C. State University basketball player who was arrested early Wednesday faces a long list of criminal charges.

Raleigh Police arrested Wolfpack forward Damon Thornton, a 6'8" senior from Norfolk, Va. just after 1 a.m.

Charges against him include DWI, driving without a license, hit and run, careless and reckless driving and resisting arrest.

Police say Thornton apparently backed the vehicle he was driving into another vehicle. Damage is estimated at $2,000.

They say Thornton left the scene near Brent Road. A police officer followed him and when Thornton failed to yield, a second patrol car was called out. Thornton pulled over about a mile later.

Records indicate Thornton's blood alcohol level was 0.14. A blood-alcohol reading of 0.08 or more is considered evidence of impaired driving in North Carolina. He was released from the Wake County Jail about 11 a.m.

N.C. State basketball coach Herb Sendek says he plans to suspend Thornton indefinitely.

"Everyone is disappointed. Nobody feels good about this," he says. "His past is well documented, but Damon is a young man who is one class away this spring from graduating. We just want to help him resolve it the best way we possibly can."

Coach Sendek says Thornton's suspension will give him time to sort through this latest round of legal troubles, but he will not say if this means the end of Thornton's career at N.C. State.

"As important as basketball is to all of us, it's no comparison to what lies ahead for him," he says. "We're looking out for his best interests."

During his college career, Thornton has had foul trouble on and off the court. He received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to apair of incidentsat two Raleigh nightclubs in 1998.

N.C. State students agree that Thornton should be dealt with harshly.

"At the very minimum, like a very long suspension or maybe for the whole year or something. This is some really bad stuff," says student Jurg Domenig.

When it comes to student-athletes, N.C. State tries to keep a tight watch on their players. The school has a strict code of conduct for them.

School officials say that anyone charged with a felony will be immediately suspended from the team. Thornton was charged with misdemeanors. andKamal Wallace


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