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Senior Carlton Bragg Jr. has been removed from the University of New Mexico men's basketball team after he was arrested by police early Sunday and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and possession of under one ounce of marijuana.
Lobos head coach Paul Weir told the Journal on Sunday that Bragg has been removed from the team, though it is unclear if he could be reinstated before the end of the season.
“Based on what I know at this time, I will be removing him from the team,” Weir said Sunday night in an email. “My hope is that he can find increased time and attention to heed to his personal well being. My sole purpose going forward is to support Carlton in his health and growth as a young man. The game of life is much more important than basketball right now. I still believe in him and hope this next step will allow him to develop into a strong, responsible young adult while also completing his degree here at UNM. I am rooting that this next chapter is his best one yet.”
Bragg, 24, was released from custody Sunday morning, according to Metropolitan Detention Center records.
According to a report filed by the Albuquerque Police Department, Bragg was arrested at a sobriety checkpoint near Broadway and Coal driving a white BMW at 1:21 a.m. Sunday.
The report says Bragg smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech, admitted drinking two glasses of wine between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., and performed poorly on the horizontal gaze field sobriety test, the one-leg stand test and the walk-and-turn test. Bragg refused to submit to a breath test, then “was very irate with officers once arrested.” Once Bragg was arrested, a transport officer “located a small amount of marijuana on Carlton during the booking process.”
The UNM Athletic Department released a statement Sunday afternoon saying it is aware of the situation and is looking into it further.
Bragg played in Saturday's win over Air Force in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit. It was his second game back after a three-game suspension stemming from an allegation by a 20-year-old woman that he tried to have sex with her against her will last summer. The allegation was not brought to UNM's attention until the suspension, athletic department personnel have said, but UNM athletes, including Bragg, were being interviewed by police about the matter several weeks before the suspension was handed down.
The APD police report on the case lists the charge as attempted criminal sexual penetration. The case was forwarded to the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office, which due to a conflict of interest then sent the case to the District Attorney's Office in Alamogordo to review and determine if charges should be pursued.
Attempts to reach Bragg, or an attorney representing him, for comment have been unsuccessful.
Asked via email on Sunday how the recent issues with Bragg reflect on the university as a whole, not just on athletics, UNM chief marketing and communications officer Cinnamon Blair responded:
“Student-athletes and team success contribute to the University's overall image. Because of the high visibility of Lobo athletics, any off-the-court issues related to student-athletes are often amplified. However, they do not independently detract from the numerous outstanding contributions and successes of our Lobo community – many of which may never be publicly reported – that forge the deeper image of service, scholarship, discovery and fortitude for which UNM is known.”
Athletic director Eddie Nuñez and the university's communications department have not responded to repeated requests for comment about why it felt comfortable reinstating Bragg after the suspension.
Weir had said questions should be directed only to Nuñez, and he would comment at some time but could not do so at the moment.
Bragg, a 6-foot-10 forward who started his college career at Kansas, and J.J. Caldwell, a 6-1 junior point guard who started his college career at Texas A&M, were both suspended indefinitely before the Dec. 22 game against Houston Baptist. But UNM did not say then, or since, why the two were barred from all team activities. It did say the two matters are unrelated, but the Journal has reported that prosecutors are reviewing legal issues for both.
Caldwell also has not been charged, but he has been accused of misdemeanor battery against a household member for an alleged Dec. 14 incident in his apartment near the Pit.
Bragg has played in 15 games this season for the Lobos, who are off to a 15-3 overall start and 4-1 in Mountain West play. He is averaging 12.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots. The Lobos are scheduled to visit Colorado State on Wednesday night.
During his sophomore season at Kansas, Bragg was suspended from the team after he was arrested and charged with battery against a woman in 2016. Not only was that charge dropped, the woman who made the allegation against him was later charged with a crime when video surveillance of the incident was reviewed by prosecutors.
Bragg later transferred to Arizona State, where he was kicked off the team in less than a semester for an unspecified team violation. He transferred to UNM, where this year he was named a team captain. He has seven credit hours remaining before earning his degree, though he already walked in December's commencement ceremony.
Journal Staff Writer Pilar Martinez contributed to this article.