Grizzlies' Chavez leaves program

Updated: October 10, 2003, 7:57 PM ET

HELENA -- University of Montana basketball player Mike Chavez has withdrawn from classes and left the program for personal reasons, head coach Pat Kennedy said Friday.

Chavez, who would have been a sophomore for the Grizzlies, played in 23 of Montana's 30 games last season, averaging four points and three rebounds per game.

"He leaves in good standing academically and in good standing with the team and coach Kennedy," said Mary Ann Chavez Still-Smoking, Chavez' mother. "Michael is leaving for a medical reason and plans to return to the University of Montana as soon as next semester to resume his academic and athletic career."

Chavez, a 6-foot-7 forward who led Heart Butte and Browning to state basketball championships, averaged 26 points and 15 rebounds the last two seasons of high school. He was touted as the most widely recruited prep basketball player in the state.

Chavez was arrested early on Feb. 4 after allegedly running a stop sign and hitting another vehicle. He was charged with driving under the influence, minor in possession and other misdemeanor traffic violations. Coach Kennedy suspended him for five games.

On Sept. 30, Missoula Municipal Court records say Chavez pleaded guilty to a lesser charge under a plea agreement that required him to undergo addiction treatment.

The Grizzlies are scheduled to start practice next week.

Kennedy said the loss of Chavez will affect the team's lineup, but mostly, the team is rallying around Chavez until he returns.

"Our players have really started to grow that close-knit family atmosphere that you want for your team and I think there is just more concern and heartfelt hope for Mike than anything else," Kennedy said.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index