This fall, both the University of Minnesota football team and men’s basketball team have had their share of run-ins with the law. The two coaches have handled their situations in starkly different ways. Tubby Smith, the men’s basketball coach, suspended two players indefinitely, Royce White (who was arrested) and Devron Bostick. Athletics Director Joel Maturi has further announced that star recruit Trevor Mbakwe will not play until his December trial for aggravated assault is resolved.
Though the behavior of these student-athletes is unacceptable and reflects poorly on the University, the fact that Coach Smith has held these student-athletes accountable for their actions is commendable. Smith clearly cares not only about his team’s performance but also how he and his team represent the University.
Gophers football head coach Tim Brewster has taken a different approach. Neither Michael Carter, who was arrested Nov. 1, nor Gary Tinsley, who was arrested after being involved in a fight in which he was seen swinging a wood board and fleeing police, were suspended for their actions. Maturi and Brewster have said these are internal matters and will be dealt with by the team. But these are not only internal matters; these are criminal, public matters for the college football team of a public university. These were not violations of team rules; they were violations of law. The lax pattern of discipline emerging from Gophers football offers an unprofessional reflection of our University and shows blatant disregard for the fact that this team represents it.