New Mexico coach Steve Alford put some teeth into his stance against drinking and driving last week. After reserve Chad Adams was arrested, Alford suspended him for four games next season, removed him from scholarship for the summer, made him issue a public apology, and even took away the sophomore's car keys for the rest of his career.
So news one week later that departing senior Dairese Gary, the team captain and heart and soul of the Lobos, was arrested on charges of aggravated DWI must have deeply saddened Alford. Gary, according to the Albuquerque Journal, was said by police to have crashed his vehicle into some mailboxes early Sunday only hours after attending a Coaches vs. Cancer Gala hosted by Alford.
"I am obviously very disappointed by the news of a charge on a former player for drinking and driving," Alford said in a statement. "This mistake is not indicative of what our program has been about for the past four years. A part of being a Lobo basketball player is understanding the responsibilities that come with wearing the cherry and silver New Mexico jersey. As a program, we will give him our support in helping understand the consequences of his decisions, and we will use this as an opportunity to not only educate our team about the dangers of drinking and driving, but our community as well."
Gary was revered in Albuquerque for his toughness throughout his career and this season led the team in scoring before going down with a season-ending torn ACL in the Mountain West Conference tournament. A drinking and driving arrest shouldn't be the thing that defines him.
That's what Alford appeared to be getting at when he issued his punishment to Adams and made him apologize. In Gary's case, there will come a time when Alford's players no longer fall under his jurisdiction. But while they do, any New Mexico Lobo who gets in trouble can only hope that Alford's penalties are the worst thing that will happen to him.
The results of drinking and driving, a major problem in the state of New Mexico, could be much worse.