When Richard Coffey heard the news about a pair of sex videos that resulted in the suspension of three University of Minnesota basketball players, he had a reaction not unlike many Gophers fans.
“I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned about some of this stuff, and some of the things that have happened over there this year,” he said.
But as a former player, current supporter and the father of a Minnesota recruit — the Gophers’ prize prospect, Amir — Coffey’s concern carries more weight than a spectator’s.
The younger Coffey, a 6-7 guard ranked in the top 50 nationally in his class, followed in his dad’s footsteps last fall when he committed to Minnesota.
Through the depths of a Gophers season that has seen a 14-game losing streak and only two Big Ten wins, the Hopkins star — who just received an invite to the Jordan Brand Classic in New York on April 17 — and his father remained staunchly committed to the university.
But as the defeats have piled up, so have the off-the-court issues. Less than two weeks after dismissing senior Carlos Morris for “conduct detrimental to the team,” coach Richard Pitino announced Tuesday that guards Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer were suspended for the remainder of the season. The videos appeared on the social media accounts of Dorsey.
Last season, Zach Lofton was dismissed for “failing to meet the expectations and obligations of the team,” and Daquein McNeil was arrested for allegedly committing two counts of felony assault.
The elder Coffey doesn’t take those sorts of losses lightly.
“It does make you think about the entire picture, yes it does,” he said, speaking specifically about the most recent suspensions. “I think any parent that had a son that was about to leave home, that’s very impressionable and is going to be away from home for the first time, living on campus — I think any parent would have some questions running through their mind about this situation right now.”
Richard Coffey said he spoke with Gophers assistant Ben Johnson shortly after hearing the news. Then he sat down with his son.
“I talked to him for about the 10,000th time about peer pressure,” he said. “About what’s right and what’s wrong. About being able to say no and walk away from certain situations.”
Interim athletic director Beth Goetz confirmed Wednesday that she conferred with Pitino on the suspension decision.
“We were in constant contact from the very beginning,” she said before the Gophers’ 62-49 loss to Wisconsin. “He ultimately made a recommendation, and we believed it was the appropriate action to take.”
Pitino originally said Monday that he expected the three players to continue playing this season. Goetz said Wednesday that they did not learn any “new information” in the 24 hours between Pitino’s comments on his radio show and the suspension news.
“As you continue to process things and really make sure you’re taking the right steps, it’s always an evolving process,” she said. “Keep in mind the decision was made in a really short time period. It was just about being a little more thoughtful and do what everyone was going to be a little more comfortable with.”