You may have noticed that The Daily Gopher has been relatively quiet on the controversy surrounding Kevin Dorsey, his Twitter account, and the suspensions of Dorsey, Dupree McBrayer and Nate Mason. That was an intentional choice. Now that all three players have been suspended for the remainder of the season and after talking it over as a staff we think it's a good time to have reasoned discussion about it here at TDG.
This is really a unique incident in that there are very few facts that are known. Some things are widely accepted and really have not been denied. I'll call these likely facts. Beyond that many assumptions are being made beyond what we think we know. An incident like this also raises inevitable legal and Title IX questions. Even if there are no legal implications there are plenty of red-flags in terms of the program's culture and legitimate questions about what this does the brand of Gopher Basketball.
What We Likely Know
Let's start with what we know and what we all assume to be true. This Star Tribune story does have a U representative confirming "We've seen some of the things on social media and we're looking into it." Everyone who is reporting on this incident are reporting it based on second-hand knowledge of something seen by other eyes and thus I'm considering these the likely facts:
Late Friday night or very early Saturday morning, freshman guard Kevin Dorsey posted a video of him performing a sex act with a woman. There were other males in the video, but they have not been identified. The video was posted to Twitter. It was taken down quickly and Dorsey's Twitter account was then completely deleted.
Here are the facts we know with certainty:
Sunday, just hours before the team's game at Illinois, the University announced that Dorsey, Nate Mason, and Dupree McBrayer were suspended for the game. Yesterday Coach Pitino said he thought they would play against Wisconsin. This afternoon, all three players were suspended for the remainder of the season.
Questions and Potential Legal Issues
From there, things get fuzzy and this is the gray area where people are making a lot of assumptions. Everything I discuss below should be questions instead of assumptions and we need to fight the urge to make judgments without the facts. All of these are important questions and the answers should drive the conversation...once we know the answers.
We do not know the nature of the relationships of the people in the video. We do not know if the act was consensual. We do not know if the act of taking the video was consensual. We do not know the nature of Mason and McBrayer's involvement.
Very little is known.
There may also be legal ramifications here, but not based on what we currently know. The Star Tribune confirmed there are no legal investigations into this incident per the Minneapolis Police Department. The other thing to watch (but not assume) are potential Title IX ramifications. There is nothing happening on that front either and as a result it joins the legal angle as something to watch for.
Jumping to Conclusions and Snap Judgments
Now, after reading message boards, some weak "journalistic" reporting on it and plenty of internal TDG discussions, my plea is that we refrain from jumping to conclusions and making assumptions.
NOTE: The rest of this is post my opinion and the one conclusion/assumption/judgment I am making is that there were some poor decisions made in this incident. I'm trying hard to not make any further assumptions.
On one end you have the "kids will be kids" camp. Which is justified with "I'm just glad they didn't have social media when I was in college." While, there may be some truth to this, we need to be very careful not to purport this as some sort of excuse for bad behavior. College kids have been doing stupid things for decades and the advent of social media is a dangerous platform today. But if we are to assume that we are the adults here, we need to still maintain that just being a kid doesn't absolve you of doing dumb stuff. Just because kids wouldn't have been caught doing things in the past doesn't mean it was OK then.
Different people may have different views on what exactly was the poor judgment and when was the line crossed. The act itself, the lack of respect for the young woman involved, the decision to record it and the decision to put it on social media. In my opinion really poor judgment was exercised all throughout. The point is that the problem is not just the fact that he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
On the other end of the spectrum you have people using this incident to take shots at the U and/or Pitino's lack of control over his program. The former is ridiculous and it's a stretch to use this incident to further some agenda that the entire athletic department should be under indictment. The latter is worth debating, but once again we should try to stick to some of the facts rather than misleading people.
My primary issue here is with Patrick Reusse and his article on 1500 ESPN's website. His attempts to make this about the University and portray it as a systemic problem under Pitino are weak and yet standard operating procedure for Reusse.
Pitino declined to add any details of what led to the suspension during the taping on his Monday radio show. The university has chosen to embrace the time-honored dodge of students' privacy rights.
A time-honored media grievance that they want answers to their questions now and they deserve them. And if they are not provided it is likely due to something being hidden and covered up. While that is possible, it is also possible that they are letting investigations and potential legal involvement play out. Ultimately it is a weak cheap-shot at the University. (SOP). Sometimes it is OK to wait for the facts before making a statement that may be based on what they know "now," which could of course be something completely different as more facts arise.
But this is what really shows off Reusse's ability take partial truths to persuade people to believe what he's trying to say. A typical case of forming opinion and picking-and-choosing the facts to support this theory in classic Truthiness.
Pitino had four players leave his program last season, including Daquein McNeil after he was charged with assaulting a woman.
In this case, the embarrassment for Pitino’s program would he a player being dim enough to post a sex video in a public forum such as Twitter.
This lumping of unrelated events into one here is greatly misleading. It is intentionally vague, doesn't call out why anybody left or make actual comparisons because he knows they are specious at best.
First of all, I'm not sure who the fourth player is that left the program last season (I assume Carlos Morris, which occurred this season, is his fourth). Secondly, you can't take a handful of completely unrelated combination of dismissals and transfers to prove any sort of point here. And thirdly, what is the point of that "factual" nugget? In fact, there really was no point made about this statement. There was no tie-back between the "four" players who left and Kevin Dorsey other than his theory that Dorsey was going to be gone after this season even before this incident. Why? I guess because "four" other players left last year. A theory that can be confirmed by someone who was sitting next to him at last Tuesday's game.
Nadine Babu is a co-owner and contributor to gopherhole.com. She can confirm that as we watched the first half of the Gophers-Rutgers mess at Williams Arena last Tuesday that I said:
"I would bet that Dorsey isn’t going to be here next season. He was suspended early in the season. He’s a backup guard and he wants to be at a place where he’s the show. Plus, the way Dorsey plays – basically, without passing — and his reputation for being a goofball, he might be more trouble than he’s worth.’’
I guess his being right before all of this occurred is the overall point. But I'm not sure what one has to do with the other.
I'd like to know how Josh Martin leaving the team because he felt he deserved playing time before earning it has anything to do with Kevin Dorsey. Explain to me how Zach Lofton's "conduct detrimental to the team" is related to Kevin Dorsey wanting to be at a place "where he's the show." McNeil's assault charges were handled swiftly and appropriately, those are two incidents involving women, but the comparisons should end there and have no correlation to Dorsey being a "goofball."
I will agree that this incident is one that paints the Gopher basketball program in a bad light. This is not good for the program's image or brand. And this is not something that helps Richard Pitino who is battling a terrible record, along with poor decisions off the court by his players. Chip Scoggins covers this, and he also uses some of the past incidents but he actually ties them into what the point of his article was.
The cumulative effect of this rash of disciplinary issues raises concerns about Pitino’s program and deserves as much attention as his won-lost record, because a head coach should be evaluated on every facet of his operation.
The instances listed above can’t be brushed aside as Pitino trying to clean house or send messages to holdover players from Tubby Smith’s tenure.
These are players that he recruited and brought into the program. These are his guys.
Hard to argue.
The fact that Pitino disciplines players when the situation warrants it should not be discredited. Shows he’s willing to hold players accountable if they screw up.
But at some point, shouldn’t the university examine what’s happening on the front end that might be contributing to these problems? How many players must Pitino suspend or kick off the team before the culture that he talked about takes root?
I do not disagree that there are questions to be asked around the current Gopher basketball program. Doing it with cheap-shots is one way to do it and simply asking the questions with specific examples to back them up is another (better) way.
This season has been an utter train wreck. Many of us assumed it would be bad and it has been significantly worse. This weekend's incident is the icing on the cake. The program is in bad shape. Discussion about the future of the program and how long Richard Pitino is involved will come another day. But as we discuss this latest incident I hope we can do it without jumping to conclusions and making assumptions about motives, what happened and the character of all the people involved.