Rough times in the land of maroon and gold

Multiple programs are seeing negative publicity on and off the field.

Josh Katzenstein

From a slew of criminal charges to season-ending injuries to players quitting, tough times have befallen Minnesota athletics. The floodgates opened Oct. 20 when Brook Dieter quit the volleyball team, but it wasnâÄôt the fallâÄôs first issue. Prior to Dieter leaving, Gophers basketball recruit Trevor MbakweâÄôs felony assault charges had been announced, two football players âÄî senior defensive end Cedric McKinley and sophomore defensive back Tim Dandridge âÄî had been suspended for two games and sophomore defensive back Gary Tinsley had been implicated in a Dinkytown brawl. MbakweâÄôs alleged felony assault happened in April, and the two incidents with the football players happened in late September. But since Dieter, a wave of trouble throughout Gophers athletics has cropped up in rapid succession. The volleyball team has found other ways to win games, but DieterâÄôs absence is certainly felt, as evidenced by back-to-back sweeps at the hands of Penn State and Ohio State. Five days after DieterâÄôs departure, Gophers senior wide receiver Eric Decker injured his left foot, forcing him into surgery that will keep him out the remainder of the season. Minnesota appeared to overcome the loss of its best player when junior quarterback Adam Weber put on an aerial display against Michigan State, throwing five touchdowns in a 42-34 victory the following week. However, that high diminished quickly, and DeckerâÄôs absence became noticed Saturday when the Gophers fell to Illinois, who visited with just one win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team all season. But the football team has been in the news as much for recent off-field struggles as it has been for on-field ineptitude. On Friday, defensive graduate assistant Clint Cosgrove was charged with a DWI, adding to the already long list of criminal claims involving people within Minnesota athletics. Just last week, freshman defensive back Michael Carter had a run-in with the law as he was caught trying to pick a fight with passers-by outside Mesa Pizza. Many college students pick fights around campus, especially when alcohol is involved. But Carter, 18, proceeded to disobey police and was charged with consumption by a minor and obstructing the legal process. Last week, menâÄôs basketball coach Tubby Smith announced the suspension of two players, one of whom, freshman Royce White, was charged with misdemeanor theft and assault at MacyâÄôs in the Mall of America. Personnel issues extend to the rink as well. Not only did the menâÄôs hockey team lose freshman Nick Leddy for six weeks and senior Jay Barriball for the remainder of the season, sophomore defenseman Sam Lofquist departed the team the University on Monday. Head coach Don Lucia said he thought Lofquist was upset about playing time and may have had higher aspirations, possibly the Ontario Hockey League . However, it is becoming more and more clear that control may not lie with the Gophers coaching staffs. ItâÄôs tough enough dealing with injuries and disgruntled players leaving, but utter disregard for the law and suspensions for still-unknown reasons have done nothing but shine a negative light on the University of Minnesota. Fans already have a difficult enough time cheering for teams that begin a season 0-4 or lose to the worst team in the conference. If programs continue to attract negative publicity off the court, field and ice, there will be little reason for anyone to stay on board.