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Vols’ Harris Charged With Assault

May 12, 1998

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Tony Harris, Tennessee’s freshman point guard and a key member of last year’s NCAA tournament team, has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend.

Shayla Denise Green filed a simple assault charge against Harris, last season’s Southeastern Conference co-Newcomer of the Year, after an argument turned physical outside Gibbs Hall dormitory Monday afternoon.

Green, a UT student who has dated the 19-year-old Harris since high school, claims he pulled her hair and hit her.

University of Tennessee Police Detective Gary Spangler said Green had visible scratches around her neck and swelling on the back of her head.

A police report said Green was reluctant to press charges, but she did so after talking with detectives.

``The only reason I really involved the police was because I really wanted to make sure that it never happens again to me or anyone else,″ Green told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ``And to make sure that he stays away from me.″

She called the incident ``very unfortunate for both of us.″

``And I really hate that Antonio let his temper get the best of him,″ Green said.

Harris considered filing charges against Green, but declined.

``He didn’t want to stoop to that level,″ Harris’ attorney Jeff Hagood said. ``Nothing happened. If she wanted to try to embarrass him, he couldn’t stop her. But he wasn’t going to embarrass her.″

The 6-foot Harris averaged 14.2 points and 11.3 assists last season. He led Tennessee to a surprising 20-9 record and the NCAA tournament, where the Volunteers lost in the first round to Illinois State.

Tennessee coach Jerry Green, interviewed in Nashville during a stop on the Big Orange Caravan tour with boosters, had nothing but praise for his talented guard.

``I’ve known Tony Harris for 13 months and in every dealing I’ve had with him there has never been a better kid to work with,″ the coach said. ``He’s just been an ideal citizen, an outstanding young man and a pleasure to be around.″

He said he’s talked to Harris about the incident and has no immediate plans to punish him.

``We’ll see how it comes out and take appropriate action at that time,″ Green said.

According to the police report, Green drove to the dorm to retrieve two CDs from Harris. When she pulled up, Harris said she opened her car door for him to get in so they could talk.

She said Harris was ``angry with her because she went out with some friends while Harris went back home to Memphis for the weekend,″ the police report said.

They argued, then scuffled. The report said Harris conceded he ``did push her a little to get her off of him.″ Harris’ friend Cedrick Wilson, a football player, pulled Harris from the car.

``Her shirt was torn and his shirt was torn,″ Spangler said.

Shayla Green has dated Harris for about 3 1/2 years, since they both attended East High. But it’s over now, she said.

The simple assault charge is a misdemeanor. Harris turned himself in and was released on his own recognizance.

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