Maryland assistant basketball coach Dalonte Hill takes leave of absence after DUI charge

Maryland men’s basketball assistant Dalonte Hill is taking an immediate leave of absence after his second drunken-driving charge in a little more than 21 months and his third in the past five years, it was announced Tuesday.

Hill, 34, was stopped Sunday night in Laurel by Howard County police and charged with driving while impaired, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, and failure to control vehicle speed in order to avoid an accident.

“I appreciate the support and encouragement I’ve received from coach [Mark] Turgeon and the athletic department,” Hill said in a statement released by the school. “But at this time it is in my best interest to take a leave of absence from the Maryland basketball program and focus my attention on some personal matters that need to be dealt with immediately.”

In January 2012, Hill was arrested by Anne Arundel police on his way home from celebrating his birthday in Baltimore and charged with driving under the influence, driving while impaired and other offenses. He wound up receiving probation before judgment and a fine of a little more than $500 in court costs, and Maryland suspended him for two games.

According to a spokesman for the Howard County state’s attorney, Hill was given a discretionary release by police in this latest incident, meaning that he was not arrested. Certain types of crimes allow police to make a discetionary release independent of a county court commissioner.

Hill has 10 days to appear before a county court commissioner to seek a trial date, or he can wait to be assigned a trial date within 30 to 45 days.

Details of the incident remain vague, as the traffic citations were not yet available in the court files and police reports are not released until a court date is set. According to the state’s electronic records, Hill was stopped by police shortly before 9 p.m. outside the Bottom of the Bay Seafood restaurant on North Laurel Road.

Hill was hired by Turgeon after the head coach succeeded Gary Williams in May of 2011. Hill had been one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the country at Kansas State, making a reported a $423,000 per year.

According to his original Maryland contract, which was obtained by the Baltimore Sun through the Freedom of Information Act, Hill took a pay cut to come to Maryland, though his salary ($300,000) was the highest of Turgeon’s assistants at the time. He has since signed another contract.

While at Kansas State — where he helped recruit Prince George’s County native Michael Beasley to the Wildcats — Hill sat out one game after being arrested on suspicion of DUI after a win over rival Kansas. He had been pulled over during a routine check at about 2 a.m, according to the Kansas City Star.

Hill reportedly was able to participate in a driver education program that helped expunge the charge from his record.

Turgeon and Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson made statements in support of Hill in a news release sent by the school Tuesday.

“We will support him through this process,” Turgeon said. “We want him to focus on his personal life. Basketball is secondary at this point. His primary focus needs to be on his health and well-being.”

Said Anderson: “I accept Dalonte’s decision to take a leave of absence. We’ve encouraged him to take the time he needs to address these personal issues.”

Turgeon did not return a telephone call seeking further comment, and Anderson declined further comment through an athletic department spokesman.

It isn’t known when Hill will return to his coaching duties, most of which center around recruiting. Hill’s connection to the Under Armour-sponsored D.C. Assault Amateur Athletic Union team helped the Terps sign this year’s top prospect, point guard Roddy Peters of Suitland, as well as get a commitment from one of their top recruits for in next year’s highly rated class, shooting guard Melo Trimble of Upper Marlboro.

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