A depleted Bobcats lineup earned its fourth MAC win during a 90-74 romp over Western Michigan at the Convo on Tuesday night. However the buzz before the game surrounded the two players who plead guilty to marijuana possession charges last week. Police last week stopped sophomore guard Steven Coleman and freshman guard Jay Kinney, who are roommates, for a broken headlight on their sport-utility vehicle. During the stop, officers said they noticed a marijuana odor coming from the car and further observation led them to a glass pipe in the back seat. Officers then found bags of marijuana on Kinney’s person and also in what Coleman claimed was his backpack. Coleman also claimed ownership of the pipe, which brought about an additional charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Head coach John Groce has suspended both players indefinitely.
This is the third time in the past month that Groce has suspended a player indefinitely. Junior center Devaughn Washington was also suspended last month for violating team rules, but returned to action Tuesday after a lengthy suspension. Even more alarming is that this is the second time being suspended for both Kinney and Coleman. Kinney was in court on drug paraphernalia possession charges (that was later reduced to persistent disorderly conduct) during the preseason and Coleman was suspended for an unspecified “violation of team rules”. The athletic department has refused to specify on any of the violations committed by players, but was forced to recognize Kinney’s and Coleman’s mishap after both appeared in court.
The high amount of suspensions are sure to raise some eyebrows about the way Groce disciplines his players. Even with the suspensions being levied against players, his recruits can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Although Groce did not recruit Washington, he was heavily involved in bringing in both Kinney and Coleman. Groce’s previous assistant coaching tenures do not reveal much in terms of troubled players. The only other incident occurred recently in Southern Florida. USF guard Anthony Crater, who transferred from Ohio State after Groce left there, failed his second drug test last December. Groce prized Crater as a recruit was sent personally to represent OSU at many of Crater’s high school games. However, Groce has not coached Crater since 2007 and it would be unfair to pin another program’s troubles on him.
Media relations athletic director would not comment when asked to explain the suspensions, only saying, “The department is aware of the recent legal situation regarding Ohio guards Steven Coleman and Jay Kinney.”