Reggie Lynch, the Gophers projected starting center, has been reinstated and is expected to practice Friday for the first time since his May arrest for suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.
Team sources told the Star Tribune on Thursday that Lynch, a 6-10, 260-pound Edina native, is cleared for all team activities, with no further punishment expected.
Lynch was suspended by the University of Minnesota after his May 8 arrest on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a campus apartment. He was released two days later, and the Hennepin County attorney’s office announced in August it would not be filing charges. Lynch remained suspended while the university finished its own investigation.
“Today the Lynch family is very happy,” Lynch’s former attorney David Valentini said. “This is a big weight off of Reggie’s mind. Now he gets to really be reunited with his team in a practice. He’s been through something very trying. Hopefully it makes him a stronger individual.”
Valentini said Lynch was “calm” during the months waiting for the police investigation to conclude, and also the weeks that passed with no decision from the U after charges were not filed.
“He felt he did nothing wrong,” Valentini said. “Anybody that knows Reggie Lynch was hoping for this result, and everybody who is a Minnesota basketball fan should be waiting for what he can do on that basketball court.”
The 21-year-old Illinois State transfer sat out last season and is expected to compete with junior Bakary Konate to be the starting center. Lynch averaged 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks as an All-Missouri Valley Conference performer in 2014-15.
Lynch is one of six newcomers who will make their Gophers debut this season. Aside from freshmen Amir Coffey, Michael Hurt and Eric Curry, Minnesota added transfers Lynch, Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M) and Akeem Springs (UW-Milwaukee). Springs, a fifth-year senior, is still waiting for his transcripts to be reviewed by the NCAA to allow him to play immediately.
Lynch, who underwent rotator cuff surgery in February, is fully recovered from the injury and expected to be ready for the team’s Nov. 3 exhibition game against Bemidji State.
Gophers coach Richard Pitino wasn’t available for comment Thursday. But Pitino said at the State Fair last week that he was wondering what type of shape Lynch would be in after missing so much practice time.
“He had rotator cuff surgery. He was out. He wasn’t able to practice because of that,” Pitino said. “He’s got a long way to go, if all this stuff is resolved, and we move forward.”
• Ed Conroy, a college basketball coach for more than 25 years, was named to the Gophers’ staff Thursday. Conroy most recently spent six seasons as head coach at Tulane.