Typically I steer clear of issues like this. Players getting charged or accused in assault is a sticky issue from all sides. These are usually serious allegations that affect people's lives in far more serious ways than whether or not they'll be playing basketball or football. I can't justify writing a post about how much of a loss said player would be when that should be the last thing we care about. If the allegation is in fact true then player X does not deserve to be playing sport X and I'm not going to waste my time or yours talking about the impact on the team. IF this is true then we should most be concerned for the victim of the incident. If the allegation is false then this is a clear injustice and an 18-22 year old kid doesn't deserve to be going through something like this. It is so easy to jump to conclusions and make assumptions that I feel it is often pointless to spend the time writing about it.
With all of that said there was a Myron Medcalf story it today's paper about the Mbakwe situation. Myron's story centers around whether or not Trevor Mbakwe will even be admitted for school this fall, and if he clears that hurdle he may also be prohibited from participating in basketball until there is some clearer resolution.
School admission officials also could deny Mbakwe enrollment based on the felony charge, although the likelihood and timing of such a development was unclear Thursday night.
If Mbakwe is allowed to enroll, Maturi said he has the authority to lift Mbakwe's automatic (athletic) suspension. He will make a decision about whether he'll do that by Sept. 8, when school starts.
"Different decisions have to be made each step of the way," Maturi said. "That doesn't say Trevor is going to be playing basketball for us in December. ... That will all be determined."
I know that earlier in the week Mbakwe's attorney's came out with information that they have four witnesses who will testify that Mbakwe was at home during the alleged offense. I fear that the defense's defense isn't as easy at it sounds. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm going to make a couple of assumptions here. One, there is a reason the defense released that information to the press. If this was their ace and it were a slam dunk (first basketball reference of the post) then why would it need to be released? I'm assuming (very dangerous, I know) that this was released to help sway the court of public opinion. Secondly, there wouldn't be charges on Mbakwe if the prosecution didn't have some sort of evidence.
Here is what comforts me more than anything else in this case. Tubby Smith has proven over a long career that he doesn't cover up scandals and I am certain he will do the right thing in this situation. I believe he will do what is right over doing what means the most wins for his program. I do not believe for one second that he will put pressure on Maturi or school officials to do something that he feels is wrong. Other coaches, I would not have such faith in.
Not only coach Smith, but the University has also proven that they are quick to act and are not afraid to cut players loose when necessary. There is no recent history of covering up allegations or putting players on the field who should not be allowed to play in the name of winning games. If Mbakwe is cleared to play, I believe it will be a decision that Maturi is comfortable with once he knows most of the facts surrounding the case. If he is not comfortable with the situation I sincerely hope that he suspends Mbakwe until there is more resolution.
Ultimately I hope for all parties involved this gets resolved, the sooner the better. If Mbakwe is guilty then let's get this resolved, he can be given his just punishment and Gopher basketball will move on without him. If he is innocent then I hope for his sake his name is cleared and he can move on playing basketball and getting his life.