The judge’s decision involving Mbakwe, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA for this season, is huge news for a Golden Gophers squad that is looking to make a run at the NCAA Tournament in 2013.
Head coach Tubby Smith made the decision to handle Mbakwe’s punishment “internally” and Friday’s ruling simply allows the double-double machine to prepare and be on the court for his final season at Minnesota.
Well, more disappointing news surfaced over the weekend, this time involving assistant coach Saul Smith.
Early Saturday morning, Smith was arrested and charged with a DUI. The school instantly placed him on an unpaid administrative leave.
“While we do not want to rush to judgment before the legal process proceeds, coach [Tubby] Smith and I are taking this matter seriously,” athletic director Norwood Teague said in a statement. “University of Minnesota values dictate that our coaches and staff be positive role models for our student-athletes. As such, we are taking disciplinary measures while the legal system takes its course.”
According to Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Smith blew a 0.18 during a breathalyzer test following a routine stop for speeding, a mark that stands as twice the legal limit in the state of Minnesota.
While the news certainly comes as an additional disappointment from within the Gophers’ men’s basketball program, the timing following Mbakwe’s hearing and the start of another college basketball season is tough.
Minnesota opens the season on Nov. 9 from Williams Arena against visiting American.
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