Bellisari Suspended After Drunken Driving Arrest

By MARK WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State suspended quarterback Steve Bellisari indefinitely after he was charged with drunken driving Friday ahead of two key games for the Buckeyes.

Backup Scott McMullen will start for the No. 25 Buckeyes (6-3) against No. 12 Illinois (8-1) on Saturday.

Bellisari had a blood alcohol level of 0.22 percent, said Scott Varner, spokesman for the city attorney's office. The state's legal limit is 0.10 percent.

The 21-year-old Bellisari was charged with two counts of drunken driving and a stop-sign violation. Coach Jim Tressel said the senior co-captain Bellisari was suspended for violating team policy.

Tressel said he spoke with Bellisari just hours after the arrest.

"For the past 10 months, we've discussed the importance of decision making in good quarterback play, the same is true in life," Tressel said. "This can be a life lesson."

Ohio State can win at least a share of the Big Ten title if it beats Illinois at home and defeats No. 11 Michigan in Ann Arbor in its final two games.

The police report said Bellisari was stopped at 2:20 a.m. after officers heard squealing tires followed by braking at a stop sign, and then more squealing.

An officer said in the report that Bellisari had bloodshot eyes and when asked if he had been drinking, Bellisari said, "I had a couple of beers earlier."

Bellisari failed three sobriety tests and then was taken to the police department where he agreed to a breath test, the report said.

"It's a shocking development," athletic director Andy Geiger said. "I was a little surprised at 7 o'clock this morning to get the telephone call."

Geiger said he had not talked with Bellisari, and did not expect the quarterback to be at Saturday's game.

Bellisari's hardest hits have come from Ohio State fans. He was loudly booed and ridiculed by callers to radio shows after completing only 8-of-21 passes for 68 yards in a 29-27 loss at Penn State three weeks ago.

But in the past two games, Bellisari completed 26 of 37 passes for five touchdowns without an interception. In the season's first seven games, he was 62-of-148 with six interceptions and only three TD passes.

Bellisari's brother, Greg, was co-captain of the 1996 Buckeyes team that was 11-1 and ended up No. 2 in the polls. He is currently a graduate assistant with the Ohio State defense.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)