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UNC Coach Ford Guilty Of DUI

North Carolina assistant Phil Ford pleaded guilty today to driving while impaired and was placed on probation for one year and ordered to pay $586 in fines and court costs.

Ford, 42, North Carolina's career scoring leader, was stopped by Durham police Sept. 27 and charged with driving while impaired. A test showed his blood alcohol level was 0.24 percent three times North Carolina's legal limit. He also had a previous out-of-state drunken driving conviction.

At today's hearing, Durham County District Judge Claude Allen sentenced Ford to eight days in jail, but then suspended it because Ford has completed a 28-day alcohol-abuse recovery program. Prosecutors also dropped a charge of failing to stop at a red light as part of the plea agreement.

Ford also is barred from driving and must check in with a probation officer for one year. The judge also indicated Ford could face further punishment if found guilty of DWI or alcohol possession in a vehicle during the next five years.

Ford declined comment, but his attorney, James Williams, said, "He wanted to go ahead and take his punishment. From all accounts Phil is doing a remarkable job getting his life together."

Williams said the coach will leave with the team Friday for a tournament in Hawaii.

It was Ford's second arrest for drinking and driving. Police records in Michigan show Ford's blood-alcohol level was 0.26 percent when he was stopped in September 1997 while on a recruiting trip.

After Ford underwent alcohol-abuse recovery treatment, coach Bill Guthridge reinstated him as assistant, but said he won't be involved in recruiting for the rest of the season; Ford was the team's top recruiter the past few seasons.

Guthridge also stripped him of his junior varsity coaching duties for the time being, saying he wanted to give Ford more time with his family so he could become a head coach in the future.

During an emotional appearance at a news conference last week, Ford said he had been an alcoholic for 14 years.

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