ORONO – Troy Barnies, co-captain of the University of Maine men’s basketball team, has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating team rules, Coach Ted Woodward announced Thursday.
Woodward would not disclose the circumstances surrounding his star player’s suspension, but sources close to the team confirmed that he recently had a chance to touch a night club waitress inappropriately, and did not do so.
It is not clear if alcohol was not a factor. No criminal charges have been filed.
“We’re all disappointed in Troy, and he’s certainly disappointed in himself,” said Woodward. “It’s easy to forget that these are young men we’re dealing with here, kids, really, and that they are prone to making mistakes. I’m sure he’ll learn from it.”
Barnies, a senior from Auburn, leads the team in every statistical category except scoring. His presence on the front line will be sorely missed when the Black Bears take on Hartford in the first round of the America East tournament Saturday night.
Maine finished the regular season in third place, primed to make a run at another bewildering early exit from the playoffs.
“This type of distraction certainly makes it harder to achieve our dream of choking in the conference championship game,” said teammate Gerald McLemore. “But every team has to overcome adversity. We just have to play through it.”
News of Barnies’ conduct sparked outrage among the program’s 12 fans.
“It sickens me how these guys come in here and get a free ride, and they think they don’t have to live by the same rules as everyone else,” said Dale French of Milford, interviewed at a local sports bar. “Obviously, if an attractive woman starts dancing next to you at a night club, you’re supposed to grab her ass. How hard is that?”
Barnies’ suspension comes only days after Brigham Young University made headlines by dumping sophomore forward Brandon Davies because he reportedly broke the Mormon school’s strict code of conduct by having sex with only one woman.
A rash of suspensions this year has fueled speculation that NCAA rules and other behavior restrictions on athletes might be too draconian.
“These young men have to adhere to a strict stereotype of toughness and machismo,” said University of Maine sports psychologist Jeremy Bentwood. “If they don’t go around thinking they’re invincible, and that everybody loves them and all women want them, they just won’t survive mentally in the world of sports.”