Minnesota Gopher forward Trevor Mbakwe was arrested for violation of a no contact order last night. Mbakwe was charged with a misdemeanor and bail was set at $500, which Mbakwe reportedly posted earlier this morning.
Media sources are reporting that Mbakwe and his former girlfriend, Jenny Belsito, agreed to a two-year, no contact order in August of 2009. Mbakwe allegedly violated the terms of the no-contact order when he sent Belsito a message via Facebook.
According to sources close to Mbakwe, the message sent by Mbakwe and a mutual friend, to Belsito read, “I hope all is well with you.” Mbakwe apparently heard that Belsito was going through some type of rough period and wanted to send her well wishes.
“We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Trevor,” Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said in a statement issued by the school. “Until we know all of the facts surrounding the charges, it would be premature for us to have any further comment.”
A source close to the program, however, indicated on the basis of the facts currently known, they did not believe that Mbakwe would be suspended.
Mbakwe has made a strong case for the team’s most valuable player this year as he leads the Big 10 in rebounding (10.4) and in field goal percentage (.597). Trevor is also averaging 13.4 points a game and blocking 1.63 shots a game.
The Gophers host No. 8 Purdue on Thursday.
UPDATE - 6:30 CST
Late this afternoon, Minnesota released a statement confirming that Mbakwe is still with the team and describing his action as “a lapse in judgment” and announcing no suspension of Mbakwe from the team.
“I believe his actions were well intended, but misguided, and we have made the decision not suspend him after looking into the matter further,” Coach Tubby Smith said in the statement. “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.”
The university also included in the news release the entire message Mbakwe sent:
"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."
St. Paul prosecutor Sara Grewing said her office is reviewing Mbakwe’s case and will determine whether to bring formal charges in the next day or two. If the decision is made to prosecute the case, Grewing said Mbakwe faces a January 20 court date.
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. "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."
Mbakwe's Twitter account was taken down soon after his comments.
Information from this story was taken from the Associated Press and Minnesota Star Tribune.