ST. PAUL (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota basketball player Trevor Mbakwe will not be suspended from playing after his arrest on Monday night, University of Minnesota director of athletics Joel Maturi and head men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith announced Wednesday.
Police arrested Mbakwe after police said the 21-year-old forward violated a harassment restraining order. He was booked into the Ramsey County Jail on a misdemeanor charge. He posted a $500 bond was released just before midnight.
According to police, a St. Paul woman reported that Mbakwe posted a message on her Facebook page on Sunday, which is a violation of a current restraining order issued in Dakota County.
The message Mbakwe sent via Facebook read: “I know we haven’t talked in forever and trust me I’m not trying to start any drama with nobody in your life or anything. I just wanted to wish u the best with everything and I hope all has been well with you and your family. I am still disappointed how everything played out and I do wish that in the future we could be cool again. Idk how u r going to take this msg hopefully its not bad but I just wanted to wish u a happy new year and send out a congrats for graduating. I’ve been well I’m finally playin bball again in everything down in miami finally got taken care of thank god. Well idk if u will respond or not but best wishes for 2011.”
Sources tell WCCO’s Mike Max that Mbakwe thought it was a one-year restraining order, when it’s actually a two-year order.
St. Paul Police worked with the University of Minnesota Police to arrest Mbakwe without incident around 7 p.m. Mbakwe was arrested at a home on the 1000 block of 29th Avenue Southeast in Minneapolis.
Mbakwe’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 20.
“Trevor had a lapse in judgment,” Smith said. “I believe his actions were well intended, but misguided, and we have made the decision not to suspend him after looking into the matter further. We believe this is the appropriate thing for Trevor and the program at this time. We view this as an educational opportunity for all of our players.”
Gophers players were unavailable to reporters on Tuesday, but Mbakwe took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend himself shortly before the school announced his playing status would not change.
“Boy oh boy this some crazy stuff. I never thought in a million years that me writing an ex of mine a fb msg would cause all this drama,” Mbakwe tweeted.
He continued: “Thanks to every1 who has shown their support to my family and me. I guess some ppl just want their 10 minutes of fame. … I better be careful though don’t want the cops popping up at my door for tweeting now but much love to my support group.”
The Gophers’ next game is at home against Purdue on Thursday. Mbakwe leads the Golden Gophers with 13.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
He transferred to Minnesota before last season, but was not allowed to play while facing a felony battery charge stemming from his days at Miami-Dade Community College.
The case dragged on for a year, and he eventually entered a pretrial program in August rather than go to trial on those charges, but did not admit guilt in the case.
It’s the latest in what has been a long line of difficulty for coach Tubby Smith and the Gophers program in the last few years. Just last week, guard Devoe Joseph left the school and transferred to Oregon after being suspended twice this season for academic and off-the-court issues.
Prized recruit Royce White left the program last year and eventually transferred to Iowa State after pleading guilty to theft and disorderly conduct in an incident at the Mall of America.
WCCO-TV’s Mark Rosen Reports
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)