It didn’t take Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips long to determine Mike Hartline’s fate after he was arrested early Friday morning.
Phillips praised the quarterback’s contributions to the program, but suspended Hartline for one game on Saturday. The suspension means that he won’t play in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Pittsburgh on Jan. 8 in Birmingham, thus ending his career as the team’s starting quarterback.
Hartline was arrested Friday morning at his home on Crescent Avenue in Lexington and jailed for disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication and failure to change address. Phillips said Hartline had a “good record here conduct-wise” and regretted the incident happened, but has a zero-tolerance stance on such incidents with his student-athletes.
“We have clear expectations of how we want our players to act, how we want them to behave,” he said. “It is tough on me because of how I feel about Mike and what he has done for this program but that is something that you have to do as a head coach. You have to make a decision and our expectations are clear cut. We have to stick with them.
“We have 120 guys on our football team and the vast majority of the team our guys are doing what they are supposed to do. However, when something like this happens we have to hold them accountable. Our team understands that the expectation from here on is that somebody has to step up. It is an opportunity for someone else to step up and help us win this year.”
Hartline completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 3,178 yards and 23 touchdowns this season and was the first quarterback to win three-straight Governor’s Cup games over Louisville. He also led the Wildcats to the biggest comeback in win school history, a 31-28 thriller over South Carolina after UK trailed 28-10 at halftime.
Backup Morgan Newton, who started the last eight games in Hartline’s absence during the 2009 season, will start for the Cats in the bowl contest. He completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 706 yards and six touchdowns.