IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Senior linebacker Marcus ``Tex'' Montgomery was suspended from the Iowa football team on Wednesday after being charged with assaulting an ex-girlfriend, athletic director Bob Bowlsby said.

The Hawkeyes leave Thursday for El Paso, Texas, where they play Washington in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29.

According to Johnson County court records, Montgomery, 25, of Walnut, Calif., punched the woman several times, dragged her down a flight of stairs and kicked her several times. The alleged incident occurred at the university's chemistry building.

Montgomery has been free since his arrest Dec. 4 after posting $650 bond. He was ordered by the court to have no further contact with the woman, who wasn't identified.

``Coach (Hayden) Fry and his staff have suspended Mr. Montgomery from the Iowa football team'' pending further investigation, Bowlsby said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, Bowlsby had said the charges likely wouldn't affect Montgomery's status on the team. While attending the Iowa men's basketball game, Bowlsby spent about 10 minutes talking to Johnson County Attorney J. Patrick White before issuing the statement.

Montgomery is a reserve who has played in 10 of the Hawkeyes' 11 games this season. The 6-foot-2, 234-pounder has 22 tackles and one interception.

The charge against Montgomery is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Montgomery has endured a bumpy road at Iowa after transferring from Mount San Antonio Junior College in California.

He was ruled ineligible last season by the NCAA, which said Montgomery had fallen two semester hours short of completing the necessary 24 semester hours in his first full year at school.

The university appealed twice to the NCAA, citing extenuating circumstances, including one involving his 2-year-old daughter who, according to Montgomery, needed surgery for an eye infection.

Montgomery also cited rehabilitation from a broken leg as a reason he could not make up the necessary hours. The injury ended his 1993 season after three games and he received a medical hardship granting him an extra year of eligibility. His eligibility ends after the Sun Bowl.