Gonzaga center Josh Heytvelt pleads not guilty to drug charge

Updated: March 13, 2007, 12:31 PM ET
Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Suspended Gonzaga center Josh Heytvelt has pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony possession of a controlled substance and asked to be placed in a diversion program that will clear his record if he stays clean for one year.

The 20-year-old Heytvelt, from Clarkston, was arrested Feb. 9 in nearby Cheney after police found hallucinogenic mushrooms in the back of the car he was driving. Heytvelt and teammate Theo Davis, who was with him in the vehicle, were immediately suspended from the team.

Assistant Spokane County Prosecutor John Grasso said the diversion program appears appropriate because Heytvelt has no criminal record and is accused of a first offense. Heytvelt would be required to serve 240 hours of community service, undergo random urinalysis and not commit any crimes for at least one year, Grasso said.

If Heytvelt is accepted and successfully completes the program, the charge against him will be dismissed, Grasso said.

Should he fail to complete the program, Heytvelt would waive his right to a defense and face trial based solely on the facts contained in police reports of his arrest, Grasso said.

Grasso said Heytvelt must undergo drug testing to determine his eligibility for the diversion program.

Outside Spokane County Superior Court, Heytvelt apologized Monday to his team and Gonzaga fans.

"I want to say that I'm sorry to all the fans and the public and the community of Spokane and I'm sorry to my teammates and coaches," Heytvelt told reporters. "I wish I could be a part of everything that is going on right now."

Coach Mark Few said Sunday that Heytvelt will remain on suspension through the NCAA tournament, in which the Bulldogs face Indiana in the opening round Thursday in Sacramento, Calif.

Heytvelt, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, was Gonzaga's second-leading scorer, averaging 15 points per game, and its leading rebounder at nearly eight per game before his arrest and suspension.

Davis was charged in Cheney with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and is awaiting disposition of his case.

Both players continue to attend classes, Few said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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