KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Tennessee football star Hubert Simpson pleaded guilty Wednesday to selling one ounce of cocaine and prosecutors vowed to seek a prison sentence rather than probation.
U.S. District JudgeThomas Hull set sentencing for July 12 for Simpson, 25, who faces a possible 15 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
'We most definitely will contest probation if it comes up,' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick.
Simpson, who gained 812 yards as a fullback for Tennessee in his junior year in 1979, was allowed to remain free under $10,000 bond until his sentencing.
Simpson, of Athens, Tenn., admitted he supplied his lawyer with one ounce of cocaine to sell to FBI undercover agents posing as drug dealers. The agents bought the cocaine for $2,500 from the lawyer, John Mark Hancock, last September at a hotel near Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport.
Prosecutors said Simpson and Hancock were negotiating to sell 18 pounds of cocaine worth $500,000 and said the ounce of the drug was a sample. A charge against Simpson of conspiring to sell the 18 pounds of cocaine was dropped in return for his guilty plea.
'We think this is serious,' Dedrick said. 'You've got an athlete and a lawyer working together on cocaine dealing. They said they could come up with a half-million dollars worth of cocaine and that's a lot of cocaine.'
Simpson's most celebrated moment came in his junior year against Notre Dame when he scored four touchdowns and led the Vols to a 40-18 victory. The next season, coach Johnny Majors suspended Simpson for missing a practice and he never returned to the team.