The Michigan men’s basketball program announced yesterday that junior guard Daniel Horton will be suspended for the rest of the season.

Horton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge on Feb. 14 and had been suspended from the basketball team since Jan. 25, a day after he was arraigned in a Washtenaw County courtroom.

“As we stated all along, we understand the seriousness and sensitivity of this situation,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said in a statement. “As with all our decisions, we will do what we feel is right.”

Horton, a Cedar Hill, Texas native, will be allowed to participate in team activities and can practice with the Wolverines throughout the duration of the season, but he will not play in games.

“This has been a very difficult time, and I’ve learned a lot,” Horton said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the chance to get back with my teammates.”

Horton will miss 17 total games for the Wolverines this season — 11 because of the suspension and six because of a knee injury suffered earlier this year.

Amaker notified the team about the decision on Saturday.

“I think they obviously were disappointed, but they certainly understood it was a very sensitive and serious situation that we were involved in with Daniel,” Amaker said.

Amaker said he has been pleased with Horton’s personal growth and progress throughout the ordeal, and he added that the program’s decision to allow him to participate in team activities stems from its focus on Horton’s personal well-being.

“In relation to our players and our program, we’re always going to do what we feel is right,” Amaker said. “Sometimes we’re not in the business to make decisions that are popular. We’re in the business to make the right decisions for all parties included. We think that Daniel’s on a good course. We feel like this is another good positive step in his direction, his personal growth. And that’s the way we wanted to handle it.”

Michigan’s 70-63 loss to Indiana yesterday was its 10th in a row and its eighth consecutive defeat since Horton was suspended in January. Indiana guard Bracey Wright, a Texas native, played against Horton several times in high school.

“It’s really difficult to figure what he’s going through,” Wright said. “I wish him the best. He’s a good friend of mine, always has been since we were in high school. I don’t really know details, but I wish him the best, and I know he’ll get through it.”

Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, who was a part of a group of University officials that decided Horton’s status on the basketball team, compared Horton’s case to that of former Michigan basketball player Bernard Robinson. Robinson pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery at the end of his junior season and did not miss any games because of the incident during his senior year.

“There were a lot of things that were done with Daniel already — a lot of things that were done with Bernard that you guys never knew about, publicly,” Martin said. “We don’t just take this lightly because this reflects on the whole institution. It’s a critical issue. … This was a domestic violence incidence. This wasn’t minor in possession. This wasn’t any of the other misdemeanors.”

LSA freshman and basketball fan Danny Nutters agreed with the suspension and said he hopes that it will prevent future recurrences of violent acts.

“I think what he did was wrong, and I think it’s good that Amaker showed discipline,” Nutters said. “The season is already down the tubes, so it doesn’t really affect the team at all. It’s good to show that we’re not going to have this kind of thing happen, and I agree with (the suspension).”

But some students are not content with the decision. Engineering senior Andy Englehart said that owning up to his actions and suffering through the legal consequences was more than enough for Horton to deal with.

“It’s wrong, but (Horton’s) not beating around the bush, and I think (pleading guilty) was a good step,” Englehart said. “I think that he made a mistake and he did something wrong, but he’s going to pay the penalty in court for it, and I think that’s said and done. Everyone needs second chances, and I think suspending him for the season was definitely way too much.”

Horton, who is free on $5,000 bond, faces a maximum of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. Gerald K. Evelyn, Horton’s attorney, said that Horton will likely receive a probationary sentence, as well as court-ordered counseling and that jail-time is unlikely. Because Horton was under 21 years old at the time of the incident, he will be sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. As a “youthful trainee,” Horton’s conviction will not be placed on his permanent record if he completes his sentence. Horton will be sentenced March 9.

 

— Daily sports writers James V. Dowd and Josh Holman contributed to this report.

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