Monson kicks Gophers’ Ohnstad off team for misconduct

by Mark Heller

This isn’t baseball, it’s basketball. So after two strikes, Mitch Ohnstad is out.
Gophers coach Dan Monson kicked the Fairbault native and Gophers guard off the basketball team Friday, in part because he was arrested twice in the past 18 months for drunken driving.
In the latest incident, authorities arrested Ohnstad on charges of drunken driving and possession of marijuana in Fairbault on Aug. 20.
Monson said he learned of Ohnstad’s second arrest from the media. After meeting with his valuable sixth man, Monson notified Ohnstad of his exit from the team after class on Friday.
Monson expressed unhappiness about learning of the second arrest through the press, not Ohnstad.
“This was not just about the Aug. 20 incident,” Monson said. “It was a culmination of repeated, unacceptable behavior. I’ve had repeated talks with him about social responsibility.
“How many chances are you going to give someone? I honestly have not seen the behavior change.”
According to department policy, Monson had the option of suspending Ohnstad for three regular season games after a second arrest.
Since he is on track to graduate this spring, Ohnstad will keep his scholarship. The Gophers are reduced to nine scholarship players and had five walk-ons when practice opened on Saturday morning.
Ohnstad averaged almost eight points per game last season, played in all 28 games and was counted on for leadership and offense off the bench.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” Ohnstad said in a statement, “and support the decision that had to be made by Coach Monson and the staff.”
“We’ll miss the depth he gave us and his versatility at both (guard) positions,” Monson said. “We needed everybody and we’re already one short.”
Ohnstad is out of the picture, Ryan Keating transferred to the University of St. John’s and guards Terrance Simmons and junior college transfer Kerwin Fleming were limited in Saturday’s practice because of recent surgeries.
And that’s just the backcourt.
After sophomore center Joel Przybilla quit the team in the middle of last year, Nick Sinville transferred and forward-center Kyle Sanden opted not to return because of medical problems.
Said Monson: “We were the thinnest team in America and we just got thinner.”
“This is not about one incident, not about zero tolerance,” Monson said. “I hope I’m a coach that gives players a second chance, but this hasn’t gotten better.”

Mark Heller is the associate sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]