Hofstra men's basketball coach Tim Welsh was arrested on a...

Hofstra men's basketball coach Tim Welsh was arrested on a drunken-driving charge after a traffic stop by Nassau County police at 1 a.m. on April 30 in Levittown. (April 30, 2010) Credit: NCPD

Hofstra University suspended its new men's basketball coach without pay Friday, less than a month after he was hired, following his arrest on a drunken-driving charge in Levittown.

Coach Tim Welsh, his blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit, was charged after police found him stopped at a green light with his car running, asleep and drunk behind the wheel, authorities said.

Welsh told police he was coming from City Cellar, a wine bar in Westbury, according to court papers.

"I had white wine to celebrate with a late dinner," Welsh told police, according to court papers. "I'm sorry."

A Nassau County canine unit officer on routine patrol saw the 2006 silver Lexus driven by Welsh, 49, stopped at a green light on the westbound Hempstead Turnpike at North Bellmore Road, police said.

"The car was on, his foot was on the brake and the car was in drive, so perhaps had things been a little different, he could have lost control of that car, maybe took his foot off the brake," said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, the police department's chief spokesman. "People could have possibly been hurt."

Welsh's blood-alcohol content was 0.18 percent - more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent - in a test taken two hours after the 1 a.m. stop, according to the court records.

At his arraignment Friday in First District Court in Hempstead, Welsh, of East Greenwich, R.I., pleaded not guilty to aggravated driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated and obstructing an intersection. His bail was set at $2,000 bond or $1,000 cash bail.

His Rhode Island driver's license was also suspended.

His defense attorney, Joseph Coluccio of Rockville Centre, said his client has been living on Hofstra's campus. At the time of the arrest, Welsh was about 3.5 miles from the campus. Welsh and his wife are expecting a baby, Coluccio told the judge.

"We're going to fight this in court," he said. "His credentials speak for themselves." He declined to comment further on the case.

Welsh, who was hired April 1 at Hofstra to coach the Pride, could not immediately be reached for comment.

School officials were swift to respond Friday, announcing Welsh's suspension even before they had spoken with their new coach.

The school said in a statement that officials learned of the arrest through media reports.

Welsh was an assistant coach at Iona College, Florida State and Syracuse before he was hired as the head coach for the Iona men's basketball team in 1995. He led the Gaels to a berth in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 1998, then left Iona to coach Providence in the Big East Conference. He coached Providence until 2008, leading the Friars to the NCAA Tournament in 2001 and 2004 and the National Invitation Tournament in 1999, 2003 and 2007.

Welsh's father, Jerry, was a well-known and well-regarded coach in New York, coaching Potsdam State from 1968-91 and Iona from 1991-95 before he was replaced by his son.

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