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Hayden Goethe, Published December 06 2009

Goethe: UM’s White presents dilemma for school

College athletics is rife with fine lines and gray areas. It’s a business – as the Bowl Championship Series proves – that’s as much about money as it is about helping young student-athletes develop the life skills they need after they graduate.

Dealing with suspended student-athletes provides a whole new set of challenges for an athletic department.

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team has been without the services of Royce White, a talented true freshman who has missed every game this season while serving a suspension.

White – who was projected by many publications to be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year – was charged with assault and theft after an incident at the Mall of America in October. He eventually pleaded guilty to theft and disorderly conduct.

He is also being investigated in regards to a stolen laptop in an on-campus incident, so Gophers head coach Tubby Smith has kept White from suiting up for games and practices.

At 18 years old, White finds himself at a crossroads in his life, or at least you hope he recognizes that. There’s still a lot of potential, both on and off the hardwood.

White’s career with the Gophers hangs in the balance, and considering he has as much NBA potential as anyone on the team, getting kicked off of it would be a decisive blow to his future ventures.

So that begs the question: How does the university help to show White all he can be while at the same time send a message that his actions were completely unacceptable?

With all of the publicity surrounding him – and that publicity no longer being positive – he arguably needs basketball now more than ever before.

Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558 or hgoethe@forumcomm.com