Kansas State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber remained vague on details surrounding the suspensions of Marcus Foster and Malek Harris on Friday, but said he will not be alone in deciding when they return to the court.
“We will meet and talk with them after practice and talk to Mr. (John) Currie and then make a decision,” Weber said Friday afternoon. “We will see what happens.”
Weber announced disciplinary action against both players on Wednesday, instructing them to watch the Wildcats’ loss at Texas Tech from the visiting locker room. He has not divulged the length or cause of the suspensions, saying only that they violated team rules.
Two sources with knowledge of the suspensions said Foster, K-State’s leading scorer, and Harris, a key reserve, have been informed they will miss two more games — against Texas on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum and at West Virginia on Wednesday. The sources said Currie, K-State’s athletic director, was unlikely to alter the penalties, but did not rule out the possibility. The sources also declined to reveal the reason for the suspensions.
But the presence of Currie, K-State’s athletic director, in the decision-making process suggests the players violated athletic department rules for student-athletes. A lesser offense, such as missing class, showing little effort in practice or breaking curfew on the road would be handled solely by Weber.
No further announcement was made by early Friday evening. Currie did not return a call seeking comment.
K-State’s student-athlete handbook outlines many possible violations that lead to suspensions, from violating the school’s honor system to engaging in criminal activity. Neither Foster nor Harris has appeared in a Riley County arrest report.
Foster, a sophomore guard, was the first Wildcat to arrive for practice on Friday, walking past reporters to work on three-point shooting. Harris, a freshman forward, was right behind him.
“They are humbling themselves and staying positive,” freshman guard Tre Harris said. “They just can’t wait to get back out there, and they are just going hard in practice to help us make sure we are prepared.”
Weber said both players addressed the team when they learned of their suspensions.
“Marcus is our leading scorer, so of course it is a big deal,” senior forward Nino Williams said. “Malek not playing, too, is a big deal, because he brings energy and makes plays off the bench quite often. It is different playing without them, but other people have just got to step up and make plays.”
Few players rose to the occasion at Texas Tech. Senior forward Thomas Gipson was the only player to reach double figures. And K-State’s second-half comeback attempt was short-lived. After Harris and Stephen Hurt made a string of free throws to pull within 45-44 with nearly 8 minutes remaining, K-State limped to the buzzer, scoring three more points.
The loss dropped K-State to 12-11 overall and 5-5 in the Big 12 following a hot start in conference play.
“It’s real frustrating, because we had a lot of expectations and a lot of goals as a team coming into the season,” Williams said. “It is just one of the seasons that happens to good teams. We are just trying to finish it out strong.”
Returning home against a struggling opponent — No. 25 Texas has lost four in a row — could help, especially with K-State asking its fans to wear black for a promotion.
“I still feel like we have a chance to make a good run,” Gipson said. “We just have to win these next couple games and take care of games on the road. Then we will be right back on top.”
Texas will be playing without senior forward Jonathan Holmes, who did not make the trip to Manhattan because of a concussion, and junior guard Javan Felix, who is considered questionable while recovering from a concussion.
Weber insisted he did not know if Foster and Harris will take the floor against the Longhorns. But he did suggest it will be a battle of short-handed teams.
“They aren’t going to be at full strength, either,” Weber said. “Hopefully we can take advantage of that.”