Tubby Smith made the right decision not to suspend Mbakwe

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By now, you’ve surely all heard about Trevor Mbakwe’s arrest last night.

According to this report from Gopher Hole (which I believe to be true based on tweets from Mbakwe’s girlfriend’s account, which has since been deleted), Mbakwe sent a facebook message to an ex-girlfriend that he currently has a no contact order with:

Mbakwe and his girlfriend, Jenny Belsito agreed to a “no contact order” in August of 2009, according to this source from an ex-girlfriend that Mbakwe had from his freshman year in high school. She had first wanted a restraining order, but because Mbakwe and Belsito wanted no contact with her as well, they changed it to a two year no contact order that would require both parties not to contact each other. GopherHole have been told that Mbakwe had not seen, nor talked to the woman since the August 2009. 

Apparently, Mbakwe got together with a mutual friend and sent her a message via Facebook, and the message read “I hope all is well with you.” Even with the no contact order, he heard she was going through some kind of rough period, and was attempting to send his well wishes. This was obviously a violation of the no contact order, and because of this Facebook message, she proceeded to call the police and had Mbakwe arrested this evening.

Word came down today in a release from Minnesota that Mbakwe would not be suspended from the team because Tubby Smith believed this to be a “lapse in judgement.”

Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge issue, but Minnesota has had plenty of drama surrounding their basketball program this past two seasons, including with Mbakwe. The 6’8″ forward that is currently averaging 13.4 ppg and 10.4 rpg was forced to sit out all of last season as he dealt with legal issues back in Florida, where he spent a year in Junior College. If you remember, Mbakwe was accused of assaulting a woman, but he agreed to a pre-trial intervention program where, essentially, he didn’t admit guilt but would do 100 hours of community service and pay a fine in order to get the case thrown out.

Minnesota has also dealt with Devoe Joseph’s suspension and eventual transfer out of the Minnesota program this season and Royce White’s soap opera last season.

Is Smith doing the right thing here allowing Mbakwe to remain with the program?

Its a tricky situation for the Minnesota head coach. On the one hand, Mbakwe has been in trouble with the law before, and getting arrested — even for something as innocuous as a facebook message — is still a big deal, and may have even violated his pre-trial intervention program.

But it seems as if Mbakwe was simply trying to be nice to someone in a time of need. This wasn’t a harassing facebook message, this was a consoling message. This wasn’t Mbakwe trying to create a problem with an old flame, this was Mbakwe trying to mend a fence, to rebuild a bridge that has been burned.

Mbakwe needs a healthy dose of common sense, an improvement in decision making, and probably a solid smack in the back of the head. What Mbakwe did was dumb, but it wasn’t malicious.

He doesn’t deserve to be suspended.

I’m sure the extra wind sprints Tubby has lined up for him will drive the point home.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.