Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer were held out of the University of Minnesota's game against Illinois after Dorsey, a freshman, tweeted-and-deleted what looked like a sex tape that involved him, a woman, and at least one other man.
After getting a couple days to think about it, the team took harsher action Tuesday. All three players will be suspended for the rest of the season, coach Richard Pitino announced in a statement, explaining that it was the "best thing for the basketball program."
That basketball program is navigating some choppy waters these days, competitively, and otherwise. The team is 7-19 overall, and 1-13 in Big Ten conference play, one of its worst records assembled in the modern era.
Just weeks ago, the team dismissed Carlos Morris, a junior guard, for "detrimental conduct," though no further details were offered about whatever his offenses were. Morris began this year as a key figure, until his place was taken in the starting lineup by... Dupree McBrayer.
Exactly what was McBrayer's or Mason's conduct, however detrimental, has not been disclosed. People who have seen the short video clip or stills from it have claimed to recognize Dorsey as one of its participants.
Pitino still didn't directly speak to the controversy in his statement, which reads:
We do our best to continue to consistently teach, educate and serve all of our student-athletes. It’s a privilege to be a member of the University of Minnesota basketball program – something as a coaching staff we do not take lightly and that we stress daily to our student athletes. In this instance, these student-athletes failed to meet the standards we have set.He was backed-up in his decision by Beth Goetz, the interim athletics director who replaced Norwood Teague, and has been tipped as a likely long-term successor candidate.
I thank our fans for their support and we look forward to another tremendous opportunity for our team at Williams Arena tomorrow night.
"Coach Pitino and I have had extensive discussions during the last several days," Goetz said, "and I support his decision to suspend three student athletes for the remainder of the season. The privilege of representing the University of Minnesota comes with great responsibility and we hold all of our student-athletes accountable."
<!——StartFragment——>The decision means Minnesota will be without three players, including Mason, their leading scorer, during what would've been a miracle run through the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers last chance to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The Gophers last qualified for March Madness in 2013, under coach Tubby Smith, and have won one tournament game since their trip to the Final Four in 1997. Even those wins were later voided due to widespread academic scandal.<!——EndFragment——>