George Mason basketball suspends senior Andre Cornelius


George Mason’s Andre Cornelius, right, started 63 games the past two years. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
September 19, 2011

The George Mason men’s basketball team has suspended senior Andre Cornelius, who was arrested Friday on charges of credit card fraud and credit card larceny. He was released on a $1,500 unsecured bond the same day and will be arraigned Tuesday in Fairfax County general district court.

Cornelius, a 5-foot-10 guard from Charlotte, started all 34 games last season, led the team in three-pointers made (61) and free throw percentage (83.3). He was tied for second in steals (33) and was fourth in scoring (9.5 points per game). The suspension will remain in place pending the outcome of the university and Fairfax County judiciary process, George Mason officials said. He is still allowed to attend classes.

“He made a mistake. He knows he made a mistake,” said Patriots Coach Paul Hewitt, entering his first season at George Mason. “I’m disappointed. It was an error in judgment.”

On his Twitter feed, Cornelius wrote: “I’m doing some re-evaluating in my life. All negative people must go. I gotta make changes. If u ain’t gone have my back den u gotta go. These past couple of days really opened my eyes and made me think people r not who u think they are.”

According to a person not authorized to speak on the matter, Cornelius told police he found a credit card on campus in July, used it to purchase food and gasoline valued at about $60 and then threw away the card.

Cornelius started 63 games the past two years. Last winter he made five three-pointers five times, including a 7-for-10 performance for a season-high 25 points at UNC Wilmington. In the second half of the season, he converted 31 of 34 free throws.

Cornelius and fellow seniors Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison are expected to lead the Patriots, who tied a program record with 27 victories last season and defeated Villanova in the NCAA tournament.

Despite standout guard Luke Hancock’s decision to transfer to Louisville, the Patriots are among the favorites in the Colonial Athletic Association and might earn votes in top-25 preseason polls.

The team is scheduled to open preseason practice on Oct. 14.

Meantime, junior forward Johnny Williams, one of the team’s top returning front-court players, is likely to redshirt after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. “It’s very much a possibility,” Hewitt said.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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