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Vanderbilt assistant pleads guilty to drunk driving, won't coach in 2014

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

After pleading guilty to a drunk driving charge stemming from a February 16 incident in Nashville, Vanderbilt defensive line coach Vavae Tata will not be a part of head coach Derek Mason’s staff in 2014, the AP reports.

Tata pled guilty to the drunken driving charge in exchange for a court agreement to dismiss a count of leaving the scene of an accident.

Vanderbilt spokesman Rod Williamson said Wednesday that Mason had been waiting for Tata’s case to play out in court before making a decision on his future with the staff. Now that Tata has been won’t be on staff in 2014, Mason hopes to fill out his staff “within the week.”

Williamson added that Tata remains employed by the university.

“One thing we can say for certain is Tata will not be coaching this season,” Williamson said.

Mason originally suspended Tata on February 18, two days after his arrest for striking two parked cars, then fleeing the scene on foot to avoid the police. After being pursued, Tata was located a few blocks away and admitted to driving the car.

Tata was hired by Mason on January 24 and followed Mason to Vanderbilt from Stanford, where he had been an assistant with Mason for the last two seasons.

Tata, 37, who blew a 0.18 on a Breathalyzer test, will lose his license for a year and serve 48 hours in jail.

“He wants to apologize to the Vanderbilt community; he wants to apologize to the athletic department,” Tata’s attoryney Roger May said. “He’s very embarrassed by this situation, and I can assure you I don’t think it’s going to happen again.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Vanderbilt is expected to hire former Utah State assistant Frank Maile to fill Tata’s position.

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