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BONA'S RELPH IS SUSPENDED

St. Bonaventure point guard Tyler Relph, the West Virginia transfer and former New York State Mr. Basketball who is expected to be the Bonnies' top player next season, might not get the chance to play in the Reilly Center.

Relph, 20, was suspended indefinitely Tuesday by Athletics Director Ron Zwierlein for unspecified violations of the department's code of conduct and team policy. The News has learned the suspension stems from Relph's arrest early Sunday morning in the village of Allegany on charges of driving while intoxicated, and that it was his second alcohol-related brush with the law since arriving at the school last year. Citing student privacy issues, school officials have declined comment.

Relph is expected to be ordered to undergo drug and alcohol counseling through the university's counseling center. If he fails to complete that program or has another incident, his scholarship would almost certainly be revoked. Even if he does complete it, it's possible he could be suspended for a number of games early in the 2005-06 season.

According to Allegany police, Relph was observed in a vehicle squealing its tires on North Fourth Street at approximately 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Relph then ran a stop sign, police said, and was pulled over on North Second Street. He was charged with DWI, having a blood alcohol content higher than .08, failure to stop at a stop sign and an unsafe start.

Relph was released on his own recognizance and will appear in Allegany Village Court to answer the charges Tuesday night. He is facing fines of at least $500 and sanctions from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Allegany records show Relph was also arrested on Oct. 10, 2004, for possession of alcohol by a minor, violation of an open container law, littering and disorderly conduct after running from police. He accepted a guilty plea and paid fines on those charges.

Relph's situation is the second major transgression by a key Bona transfer in recent weeks. Forward Paul Williams, who sat out last year after coming from Siena, has admitted committing plagiarism in a sociology class and has received an "F" for the course, putting his academic eligibility in question.

Relph did not play last season as he sat out under NCAA transfer guidelines and was expected to get major minutes next season as the Bonnies try to recover from a disastrous 2-26 season.

Relph played the 2003-04 season at West Virginia under former Canisius coach John Beilein before deciding to transfer. Relph was named New York's top scholastic player in 2003 at Rochester McQuaid after leading the school to a state championship.

The Bonnies become thin at point guard if Relph is unavailable. Terron Diggs, who signed Monday out of Tallahassee Community College, and sophomore Isiah Carson would have to take most of the duties.
e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com