Men’s basketball player faces drunk driving charges for second time

by Liz Bogut

University men’s basketball player Mitch Ohnstad will appear in Rice County court Oct. 23 to face charges that include driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana, according to police and court reports.
The charges stem from an Aug. 20 incident in which Ohnstad was arrested at 1:20 a.m. by the Minnesota State Patrol in his hometown of Faribault. Ohnstad was initially stopped for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit, according to reports.
Upon being pulled over, the reports stated, Ohnstad was very intoxicated. He told the trooper he was drunk and in bad shape but just wanted to go home. Sobriety tests concluded he was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent, 0.05 percent above the legal limit.
During a search of the vehicle, the trooper allegedly found a plastic container with material appearing to be marijuana and a marijuana pipe. A cooler with unopened beer was also allegedly found in the back seat.
Ohnstad’s car was impounded and his driver’s license was revoked.
This is the 23-year-old senior’s second arrest for drunk driving. Ohnstad was convicted of driving under the influence in March 1999 and his license was revoked.
Ohnstad played one season at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo before giving up his scholarship to transfer to Minnesota. He played an average of 20.8 minutes coming off the bench for the Gophers last season. Ohnstad was the team leader in bench scoring with 6.1 points per game and also led the team with 75 assists.
Frank Kara, assistant director of the athletic compliance office, said there are no Big Ten or NCAA policies that reprimand student-athletes for alcohol violations.
But according to the University Intercollegiate Athletics 2000-2001 Student-Athlete Handbook distributed to athletes at pre-season meetings, student athletes are required to observe certain policies.
The handbook states student who are of legal age are expected to consume alcohol in a responsible manner. Consequences for violating this rule are determined by the head coach through consultation with the athletics director.
Consequences might include a verbal and written warning with an educational conference, required chemical dependency evaluation and/or treatment, suspension from the team, loss of eligibility and dismissal from the team.
Gophers basketball coach Dan Monson did not return phone calls.
Ohnstad faces three gross misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence. The maximum penalty for each count is one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.