Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart addresses dealing with players discipline following arrests. (Video by Chip Towers/AJC)

DUI arrest means automatic suspension for UGA’s Bill Norton

Norton, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound freshman defensive lineman from Memphis, was booked into Athens-Clarke County Jail at 4:25 a.m. Sunday on charges of DUI, underage possession of alcohol and failure to maintain lane/improper driving. He was released at 5:44 a.m. after posting bonds totaling $3,000, or $1,000 for each of the misdemeanor charges.

The arrest was executed by University of Georgia Police. An incident report was not immediately available.

UGA takes a particularly hard stance against substance-abuse offenses that occur while operating a motor vehicle. According to the Athletic Association’s student-athlete handbook, a DUI is treated as a “Level II” violation, which is considered more serious than Level I and is equal to a positive drug test. Accordingly, violators are subjected to Georgia’s “comprehensive action plan for felony crimes and DUIs.” That includes an automatic suspension from competition, being placed in alcohol and drug awareness classes, being placed on six months probation, and possibly being subjected to a drug-testing panel known as EtG, which is a “bioworker for alcohol,” according to UGA’s student-athlete handbook.

In the past, DUIs have carried a mandatory two-game suspension for football players. However, that is not specifically cited in the 2019-20 edition of the athletic association’s policy guide, which is available online. It calls for a suspension of “at least” 10 percent of competition dates, which comes out to 1.2 in football.

NCAA rules established last season allow players to play in as many as four games without costing them a year of eligibility. However, Norton is not currently playing with the top four units on the Bulldogs’ defensive line. Senior David Marshall, junior Malik Herring, senior Justin Young and freshman Travon Walker are all playing ahead of Norton at defensive end.

Norton was a consensus 4-star prospect and the No. 3-ranked high school player in Tennessee and when he graduated from Christian Brothers High School, according to 247Sports.com.

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